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Jacksonville Jaguars

Numbers show Jaguars Fournette rushing success early will be huge

Florida Football Insiders



Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As the Jaguars prepare to attack to the Patriots defense Sunday, there will be no mystery as to what they want to do early and often: pound the ball with Leonard Fournette.

After all, Fournette ran for 1,040 yards and nine TDs in his 13 games played in the regular season. And with his combination of power between the tackles and speed, he’s the best offensive weapon Jacksonville has.

Now, we know that he left last week’s Divisional Round upset of the Steelers late in the first half with a recurrence of his ankle problems. However, he did return and even scored a big fourth quarter TD. He finished with 109 yards on 25 carries in the upset.

Still, the ankle has limited him, again in practice this week and we’ll see if he can play at close to full speed Sunday afternoon.

How big of a key is it for Fournette to get off to a good start in the first half? Here are the numbers that back up his success.

Adding the two playoff games to his totals from during the year, Fournette has now run for 422 yards in the first quarter alone, and averaged 5.3 yards a carry. That’s his best ypc average (by at least a yard) in any of the four quarters all year.

Last week in Pittsburgh, he carried it eight times for 51 yards (6.4 avg) and had two of the scores. The Jags led 14-0 and never looked back.

In terms of the first half, including the two playoff games?

Fournette now has 643 yards on 149 carries and a 4.6 yard average before intermission. That includes six of his 12 total touchdowns, too.

Therefore, it’s obvious that offensive coordinator Nate Hackett wants to get him rolling early. But, especially now, in a high pressure game, on the road, with the Patriots crowd roaring.

Last week, with Hackett dialing up plays and QB Blake Bortles engineering, the Jaguars stuffed the ball down Pittsburgh’s throat for an eight play 66 yard drive to begin the game. Then, Fournette leaped up and over from the two on fourth down and goal and a 7-0 lead and the crowd was silenced right away.

The Jaguars would love a similar scenario Sunday on their opening drive.

This isn’t to say Fournette hasn’t been really good in the fourth quarter also. Again, his combined regular and post season fourth quarter rushing stats are 64 carries 311 yards (4.9 avg) and four TDs.

And obviously, a lot of that success was Jacksonville playing with the lead for a lot of those fourth quarters on their way to a 10-4 start this season.

Still, keep an eye on #27 in white tomorrow early in the game. If he’s running it well, the chances for the Jaguars pulling a shocker go way up.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars “cornerstone” player for 2018?

Florida Football Insiders



Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The third installment of our “cornerstone” players series takes us to North Florida. And, as the Jaguars get ready to start up 2018, we wondered which impact player would be the one to build around.

You could make arguments for last year’s top free agent acquisition defensive tackle Calais Campbell, or lock down corner Jalen Ramsey, as being that player. However, it’s a player on the offensive side of the ball that appears to be everything that Jacksonville could have hoped for in a running back. That running back is Leonard Fournette.

Fournette, whom the Jags took fourth overall in the draft, is fantastic physical talent at 6’0 230lbs. with a blend of speed and power. And in his debut season, repeatedly showed why you would want to have your offense centered on his ability pound on a defense.

He made a tremendous impact from the beginning of the Jags breakout 2017 with a 100 yard game in the opening win at Houston, and three more 100 yard games in the first nine.

There was lull in Fournette’s productivity due an ankle injury and he also missed a game in Indianapolis due disciplinary reasons, but eventually, Fournette got back on track. He ran for 109 yards and 3 TDs in Jacksonville’s statement win over Seattle in December that clinched the first playoff spot for Jacksonville in 11 seasons.

Then, in the post season Fournette was just okay against the Bills in the AFC Wildcard game with 57 yards on 21 carries. However the next week in Pittsburgh, Fournette set the tone early and often with two first quarter TDs. He finished with 109 yards and 3 rushing TDs, and Jacksonville stunned the Steelers to advance to the AFC Championship Game.

The Jags sledgehammer back scored another early TD and finished with 76 yards rushing as the Patriots rallied to win 24-20 scoring in the final three minutes to knock the Jaguars out of the Superbowl.

Of course there will be great scrutiny on the play of quarterback Blake Bortles, and rightfully so.

However, much of the Jaguars success offensively, the identity of what they want to do, will be centered around Leonard Fournette.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Why is Jalen Ramsey Twitter feuding with NFL Network analyst?

Florida Football Insiders



Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There is no mistaking that Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey is talented, and in 2017 he was named as an All-Pro by his peers and most recenlty in the player polled “Top 100.” So, that’s a validation that doesn’t need a whole lot else.

Yet, an NFL Network analyst and a former NFL defensive back himself, is questioning part of his game.

And, Jalen Ramsey got annoyed. Like, really annoyed.

It all began when, Bucky Brooks, who hosts a successful podcast and appears regularly on the NFL Network questioned another player, DB Casey Hayward of the Chargers, and whether he was a “transcendent talent” in coverage.

The exchanges with Hayward on Twitter Thursday went on for a bit and then, Ramsey jumped in here:


And, when Brooks tweeted about Ramsey and why he was drafted two years ago in the top five by Jacksonville, things cranked up on social media:

Next, Ramsey questioned whether Brooks believes Ramsey is only a product of the Jaguars “defensive system” and not of his ability to shutdown the opposing team’s top wideout, one on one:

Brooks referenced former fellow Noles All American and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders as one of those rare “lock down” corners, and of course, that someone that Ramsey, two years removed from FSU, wants to be compared to with his own game.

Brooks then explained further about his own analysis and teams/GMs/personnel executives thinking:

In the end, Ramsey, who is not bashful about expressing his opinions on or off the field, finally gave some props to Brooks for having an informed opinion:

The bottom line is that analysts get paid to analyze. And the good ones are always soliciting the opinions of others, who are actually coaching and working in the NFL Front office.

And further, if Ramsey keeps “locking down” the likes of the Texans DeAndre Hopkins, and the Colts T.Y. Hilton, who he sees twice a year, then he will continue to get the respect he wants. And, he’ll get the second contract dollars that come with it, too.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Network will show Jaguars preseason game at Minnesota nationally

Florida Football Insiders



Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a tremendous surprise turnaround season that included a division win and two playoff victories, the Jaguars have everyone in North Florida buzzing for 2018. And the NFL Network is interested enough that it has announced it will be showing their second preseason game, at the Vikings, to the nation on Saturday August 18th.

This information was included in the NFL’s announcement that NFL Network will televise a total of 15 preseason games live, nationally:

The Jaguars will practice against the Vikings in Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday (8/15-16) prior to playing the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota, who won the NFC North and made the NFC Championship Game last year, signed arguably the top free agent on the market last March. That’s when they inked former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to a massive three year fully guaranteed $84 million deal.

Jacksonville will open the preseason the previous week against the NFC South champion Saints at newly renamed TIAA Bank Field in North Florida.

The good news in addition to the practice time with the Vikes, most of the starters on both sides of the ball will see action into the second quarter, if not halftime of the second preseason game.

This will be good work for QB Blake Bortles and his new assortment of targets like WR Donte Moncrief and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who both signed with the Jags in March.

And for the stout Jaguars defense led by DT Calais Campbell, LB Telvin Smith and CB Jalen Ramsey (all of whom made the Pro Bowl last year) will get a good opening half challenge from Cousins, and receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. It will also be curious to see if second year former FSU star running back Dalvin will be fully recovered from his ACL tear. And, we’ll see if the Vikings want to give him some work or rest him completely in August.

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