Today is an important day for the health of the Jaguars star running back and for the future of their offense in 2018. That’s because, Wednesday is when the Jaguars return to full practice in preparation for their match up with the Colts. And the belief is that it’s the day that for the first time in over a month, Leonard Fournette will be out there with his teammates, as a part of full practice.
This would be the first time that Fournette would have been able or allowed in a full workout, since the week of the Jets game played back on September 30th. That’s when Fournette re-aggravated his right hamstring injury in the second half of Jacksonville’s win.
Then, as we reported first in this item on October 10th, once Fournette had re-injured the hamstring, the Jaguars basically decided they would shut him down over the next few weeks through their London trip and game against the Eagles and then, the bye week the following week.
Well, that bye week was last week.
So now, after not having gone through a serious practice in almost six weeks, if Fournette is still not able to be a full participant in the Wednesday workout this week, then it’s obvious he seriously tore the hamstring earlier in that September game.
The same source familiar with the coaching staff and the situation that correctly told us about Fournette likely being rested all the way through the bye week is saying to F.F.I. that today and tomorrow are critical for the future of his season. The source added though that the belief is he’s made significant progress with the rest and the healing of the hamstring injury. However, everyone wants to see how he looks.
Clearly, the Jaguars offense has plummeted. They have only scored 46 total points in the four games since Fournette went back to the sidelines with the injury. That includes three games where they scored only one offensive touchdown. The run game has been almost non-existent and therefore, the play-action pass game for QB Blake Bortles, the same.
Over the last few weeks, VP of football Tom Coughlin and GM David Caldwell have tried to bring other veterans in to help the running back situation to go along with backup T.J. Yeldon. However, Jamaal Charles was only a Jaguar for a couple of weeks before being released again. And, the Jags traded for Carlos Hyde from the Cleveland Browns, who did play but did not have a lot success in his first game in London against the Eagles.
So, with Yeldon and Hyde available, there’s not as much pressure on Fournette to play this game with the Colts. Then again, coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett have to be anxious to get Fournette and his explosiveness back in their backfield for the stretch run.
Again, actions are going to be bigger than anything Marrone says to the media. That’s because Marrone repeatedly said to the media in the weeks leading up to the Texans and Eagles game that he felt Fournette still had a chance to play. However, in both of those cases they were obviously never intending to risk it with his hamstring before the rest and the bye week.
Fournette hurt the hamstring originally, all the way back in week one in the Jaguars victory over the Giants.
Jacksonville has lost four straight and five of the last six games to fall out of the division lead and two games under .500.
So, the time is now, if Fournette can help them get back into the playoff hunt.
And now, we wait to see if all of the rest in the rehab of the last four weeks has paid off and Fournette is ready to practice later on Wednesday
Steelers add to Jaguars frustrations with late comeback
Any hope that the Jaguars were going to turn their season around on a November Sunday in North Florida ended abruptly, as Ben Roethlisberger fueled a 16-point second-half comeback and the Steelers handed Jacksonville their sixth straight defeat.
The Jaguars controlled most of the first three quarters, but unfortunately had only three Josh Lambo field goals to show for their excellent play in the first half. And, their 9 – 0 lead going into the 3rd quarter came back to haunt them later on.
Outspoken but talented defensive back Jalen Ramsey stepped up big with two interceptions of Roethlisberger, while being matched up head-to-head on Antonio Brown of Pittsburgh. This came on the heels of a Sunday morning ESPN report that the Jaguars would likely try to trade the third year cornerback this off season to rid themselves of his antics off the field.
The Jags denied the report in a statement, and Ramsey looked up to the challenge early
However, Brown did shake loose for a 78-yard bomb in the third quarter with that Pittsburgh back in the game at 16 – 6. It was the beginning of the end for Jacksonville.
And, unfortunately for the Jaguars, an all too familiar theme took shape, again, in the second half. This, as Blake Bortles was once again virtually ineffective throwing for just a 104 yards and was sacked six times on the game.
Then, when Roethlisberger led the Steelers to another touchdown with under six minutes remaining hitting TE Vance McDonald on an 11-yard score, it wast 16-13.
Once more, Jacksonville’s offense could do nothing and gave the ball back to Pittsburgh for one more opportunity for Roethlisberger to play the hero. He hit Juju Smith Schuster-with a long completion inside the Jacksonville 25 yard line, and then, another pass over the middle Bryant put them down inside the 4-yard line with under :20 to play.
Two plays later Roethlisberger scrambled just into the end zone with only :05 remaining in the game and the comeback was complete.
In stunning the Jaguars and their home fans, Pittsburgh won its six consecutive game. Further, they dealt a likely fatal blow to Jacksonville’s hopes to get into the playoff race, as they now stand at 3-7.
Despite Leonard Fournette having a strong day with almost a hundred yards rushing and the lone touchdown on an “Up and Over” dive in the third quarter, the Jags once again showed that their biggest flaw is: that can’t throw the football with any down-filled success and get quick scores with any regularity.
And unlike 2017 when they’re plodding, run-based offense was effective, time and again, it’s been exposed in 2018 for losses.
With the win the Steelers do get a measure of revenge after being swept last year by Jacksonville including a while 45 – 35 playoff loss in the divisional round at Heinz Field.
Report- Jaguars will explore trading DB Jalen Ramsey
The soap opera involving controversial and outspoken Jags defensive back Jalen Ramsey took another turn Sunday morning. That’s when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Jags are going to seriously consider trading Ramsey at the end of this season.
Schefter made the comments on ESPN’s Sunday morning “NFL Countdown” pregame show and also wrote about it on ESPN.com, citing League sources:
Jaguars likely to consider trading CB Jalen Ramsey in offseason, per league sources.https://t.co/WzlgVgVRiO
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 18, 2018
As we wrote earlier this week, Ramsey made waves when he tweeted Monday after the Jags fifth consecutive loss that Jaguar fans were going to “miss me when I’m gone.”
Ramsey tried to downplay the controversy, when he met with the media on Thursday, and said that he was only talking to “fake Jaguar fans.” And further, he said that he wants to finish his career in Jacksonville.
We’ve documented the off-season of headaches that included: Ramsey not showing up to OTAs, delaying arriving to training camp by 5 days after the birth of his daughter, and being outspoken in an article on GQ.com criticizing multiple quarterbacks including the Jaguars opponent today, the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger.
And he and former teammate Dante Fowler were both suspended for a week during the preseason for their behavior at a Jags training camp practice, where Fowler was trying to get into a fight with teammate Yannick Ngakoue.
Earlier this week, Coach Doug Marrone took an unusual step for him and actually specifically mentioned Ramsey by name, as having blown a key coverage in the first half on a Colts touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron.
Later Sunday morning, the Jaguars released a statement denying the trade rumor:
Statement regarding CB Jalen Ramsey. pic.twitter.com/e7qquci86b
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) November 18, 2018
Ramsey was a top-10 pick of the Jaguars in 2016 and is in the third year of his four-year rookie deal. So that makes the rumors about a possible trade after the season even juicier, because he’s much more affordable for another team to acquire right now.
The Jaguars will take on the Steelers later today at TIAA Bank field.
Gameday- Jaguars rematch Steelers looking stop losing streak
Who: Jaguars (3-6) vs. Steelers (6-2-1)
When: Sunday 1 p.m.
Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville
Spread: Steelers by 5 1/2 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)
Here’s what to watch:
Build on last week’s offensive success
The Jaguars came to life on the offensive side of the ball in Indianapolis. Even though it was a 29 – 26 loss, Leonard Fournette was back for the first time in five weeks, ran tough and ended up with two touchdowns. As we have well-documented, he also help set up the play-action pass that has been sorely missed on a consistent basis for Jacksonville.
Blake Bortles (shown above in January’s playoff win) was able to hit Donte Moncrief with an 80-yard touchdown and the Jags had their best offensive output, since game four of the season.
More than likely, the Steelers will put some points on the board, and Jacksonville has to be ready to keep up with them.
Slow down Big Ben
In their two wins last season at Pittsburgh, the Jaguars defense was more than opportunistic against Ben Roethlisberger. They had five interceptions in the regular season win and then, two more takeaways in the AFC divisional playoff win were all critical.
The Jags come in with only eight takeaways in nine games, so far. And, it’s one of the big reasons they are on a five game skid.
If Jacksonville gives Roethlisberger time to throw without sacking and knocking him down or at least pressuring him into early errant bad decisions, it’s going to be a long day.
Get the Swagger back.
Somewhere along the way, the Jaguars have lost part of what made them good in 2017. They played as a confident, almost cocky, football team, especially on defense.
They have been humbled in one decisive loss after another, recently and that swagger is not there.
Playing at home Sunday, can Jacksonville revive some of that attitude in front of the home fans by making some big plays early? There will be a large contingent of Steelers fans on hand, as they always travel well.
Let’s see if it makes a difference being back at home for the first time in almost a month.
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