Leonard Fournette is hoping that less is more in 2018

Jacksonville Jaguars

Leonard Fournette rushed for 1,040 yards last season but it took him too many carries to get there. He hopes losing weight will raise his rushing average.

Last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars gave Leonard Fournette all the carries he could handle. That resulted in a 1,000-yard rushing season for the rookie running back. Unfortunately, Fournette wasn’t nearly efficient enough with his carries to make the Jaguars offense a real threat.

Fournette’s season total of 1,040 yards in 2017 looks impressive at first glance. That’s until you realize it took him 268 carries to get there. The fact that Fournette only played 13 games for the Jags last season makes it even more obvious that he was overworked.

Curiously, the Jaguars managed to go 3-0 in the regular season games Fournette missed. Even more damning for the LSU star is the fact that the team rushed for more yards per game without him in the lineup.

That’s probably the reason that Fournette has elected to change his body. ESPN journalists attending Jacksonville’s OTAs this week noticed that the second-year running back looks appreciably lighter than he did last season.

That will definitely give Fournette the chance to increase his below-average 3.9 yards per carry average from last season. Ideally, Jacksonville would like to give Fournette a few less carries and still see him add on to last year’s yardage total. To do that, Fournette is going to have to add a little more wiggle to his running style.

That doesn’t mean he’s suddenly going to become a finesse player. Fournette’s physicality at the point of attack is still going to be what sets him apart from other backs. Losing weight should allow him to get to or through the hole quicker. The idea is that Fournette can accrue more yards before contact in 2018.

If that happens, life should get a little easier on Blake Bortles. The Jaguars signal-caller needs to play well this season to nail down the starting job on a permanent basis. Diversifying the team’s rushing attack could give him more opportunities to throw the ball down the field.

Part of diversifying the offense will include giving backup running back T.J. Yeldon more touches. The team still wants to set its offense up by running the football. Taking carries away from Fournette will necessitate getting Yeldon more involved in the game plan.

The former Alabama star didn’t get nearly as attempts as Fournette last season, but he was far more efficient. His yards per carry average was an impressive 5.2 in 2017. He deserves more carries regardless of what would benefit Fournette.

The Jaguars want to be bigger and better in 2018, but both of those things don’t apply to Fournette. The Jaguars need him to be slimmer and better to exceed expectations this season.

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