Rookie running back Leonard Fournette did exactly what the Jaguars hoped he would do during his NFL debut against the Texans last Sunday. He spent the day literally running through people.
According to Pro Football Focus, Fournette forced four missed tackles while posting the first 100-yard rushing effort of his career and the first ever for a Jaguars rookie in his debut.
Fournette also forced one missed tackle as a pass catcher, per PFF, leaving him with an elusive rating of 45.1, the sixth best among all running backs during Week 1.
It’s that ability to power his way for big gains that has prompted the Jaguars to build their offensive around Fournette, but it really wasn’t until he made his debut this past weekend that they got to see that.
Fournette, you may remember, missed the Jaguars last three preseason games and a lot of practice leading up to the opener because of a foot injury, so in a way the Jaguars are still getting to know him.
One thing they’re learning is that Fournette may have a tendency to lose his cool a bit when he doesn’t win the down, which doesn’t happen often but did happen on occasion during the Jaguars 29-7 victory.
Fournette was dropped for a 1-yard loss on three of his 26 carries and coach Doug Marrone acted quickly afterward to makes sure that on those rare occasions, Fournette cuts the team’s losses right there.
“I think he’s got to do a good job of not letting people get to him, not letting people poke at him afterward and things of that nature,’’ Marrone said.
“He’s just got to stay focused and stay in the game. That’s the one thing I spoke to him about (after the game). I just urged him to stay focused, stay in your game.’’
The fact Fournette was playing in what was literally his first game in a month left some wondering what exactly it was they were going to get from the fourth overall pick in the draft.
Again, this was their first chance to really get a look at the back they’re building their attack around but if Fournette was in anything other than mid-season form it didn’t show.
“He’s a tough runner,’’ Marrone said when asked of his impressions after getting his first real good look at Fournette. “Every time you see the pile, the pile is moving forward with him.’’