Why Leonard Fournette isn't the reason the Jacksonville Jaguars found success in 2017
Advanced stats and metrics show why Leonard Fournette may not have made the transcendental impact that you thought he did.
Some people think that Leonard Fournette's rookie season was absolutely transcendental. People think he was the sole reason the offense of the Jacksonville Jaguars was better this season and that he led Jacksonville to the AFC Championship. That's just not true at all, and I'm here to tell you why.
First, let's look at some efficiency metrics. When you focus in on efficiency, Fournette left a lot to be desired on a per carry basis.
Fournette's average of 3.88 yards per carry was 0.65 yards per carry lower than the average of his teammates
Fournette's 38.33% success rate was lower than his running back teammates T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant
Fournette's success rate out of 47 running backs with 100+ carries was 37th in the league.
Also, the Jaguars' offense was actually more efficient without Fournette. Bortles averaged over 10 YPA in 2017 without Fournette playing.
The success rate numbers suggest that other running backs in his role and situation would have greater than or equal success to Fournette if they were given similar opportunities. Because his role was so volume driven, his counting stats look good, but his efficiency is questionable. It makes his season look a whole lot less special.
Some might chalk up the inefficiency to the fact that he had to face a stacked box often. Fournette faced a stacked box 16.8% of the time, 3rd highest rate in the league. Against a stacked front, Fournette averaged a decent 3.6 YPC, 13th in the league.
However, Fournette was actually worse when facing a light front. Fournette faced a light front 19.0% of the time, yet he averaged an abysmal 3.3 YPC against them!
When facing a stacked box, Fournette generally had more blockers to compensate for more defenders, but with more space to work with against a light front, Fournette was still inefficient.
Look, I'm not trying to say Fournette is bad. He's an absolute battering ram in between the tackles, and has some of the best straight line speed in the league. Having said that, it's important to take into context the numbers when breaking down Fournette's role in Jacksonville's breakout season.