There’s never a good time to lose your lead running back, especially when your lead running back accounts for 36.4-percent of your offense, which is what running back Leonard Fournette has done for the Jaguars so far this year.
That said, if the Jaguars could have picked a time to have to play a game without Fournette, who didn’t practice again on Thursday because of an ankle injury, they probably could not have picked a better time than right now. The reason is their upcoming opponent.
Next up for the Jaguars of course are the division-rival Colts, and if there’s a team in this league right now that the Jaguars should be able to beat without getting what has become a typical contribution from Fournette, it’s the Colts.
The Colts will go into this game ranked 30th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 295.8 yards per game. They’ve also allowed a league-high 34 passes of 20 yards or more, which should make for an interesting matchup. After all, no one has struggled to throw the ball downfield more than the Jaguars.
The Jags will go into this game ranked 29th overall in passing (169.7 yards per game), but their biggest problem is their inability to make explosive plays. Through five games only 23 of quarterback Blake Bortles’ 97 completions (21.6-percent) have gone for 16 yards or more.
Now, Bortles has a lot to do with that. He continues to be horribly inconsistent, so much so that the Jaguars aren’t sure from one series to the next what they’re going to get from him. But the loss of Allen Robinson has only worsened the situation.
Robinson was by far the Jaguars top receiver and best deep threat and when he went down just a few plays into the Jaguars opener with a season-ending knee injury, their deep passing game went with it. That’s what makes what Fournette has done all the more impressive.
Fournette ranks second overall in the NFL in rushing yards with 596 and he’s been getting a lot of those against eight- and sometimes even nine-man boxes. That’s tough sledding but there’s a chance Fournette won’t be able to do any sledding at all this week.
That could very well put the onus for moving the offense back on the shoulders of Bortles and the passing game. That’s not an ideal situation for the Jaguars, but they do seem to be taking on the ideal opponent for such a situation.
The only question that remains is, can they somehow find a way to take advantage of it?