DENVER — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone lamented the way his offensive line had played the previous three weeks, saying its struggles in the run game weren’t giving Leonard Fournette a chance.
Fournette certainly got it on Sunday against the Denver Broncos and, boy, did he deliver.
Fournette ran for a career-high 225 yards on a career-high 29 carries in the Jaguars’ 26-24 victory over Denver at Empower Field at Mile High. He’s just the second player in franchise history to surpass 200 yards rushing: The other is Fred Taylor, who ran for 234 yards in the Jaguars’ 34-24 victory in Pittsburgh in 2000.
Fournette did most of his damage in the second half. He had 35 yards on eight carries in the first half but had 39 yards on the Jaguars’ first touchdown drive of the second half. He ripped off an 81-yard run on the first play of the Jaguars’ ensuing possession, which was the second-longest run of his career.
That drive also ended with a touchdown and gave the Jaguars a 20-17 lead.
Jacksonville (2-2) pounded the football with Fournette and rookie Ryquell Armstead in the fourth quarter in an effort to seal the victory. That’s been the Jaguars’ plan since they drafted Fournette fourth overall in 2017: pound him enough early to wear down the defense and then take advantage of that later in the game.
Fournette had 179 yards on 43 carries in the Jaguars’ first three games, and while that’s a respectable 4.2 yards per attempt, the bulk of that came on a 69-yard run against Tennessee in Week 3. Marrone said after that game Sept. 19 and again last Monday that the Jaguars’ run-game struggles were mainly the fault of the offensive line and not Fournette.
Marrone said he challenged the line over the past week, and Fournette certainly reaped the benefits Sunday.