It seems like the Bucs just keep adding little pieces here and little pieces there. Most of these late additions won’t add up to much at all in my opinion. LeSean McCoy is not going to regain the form of years ago and start busting off 40 yard runs as a habit. He was mostly brought in as a locker room presence and a Veteran that could help our young running backs get better.
Late free agent additions
Wide Receivers Jaydon Mickens, and Spencer Schnell. Former Cardinals Center A.Q. Shipley also was brought in to add depth, waived, and then brought back again. Shipley is the most relevant of those three. And then the Buccaneers went out and snagged what could be a true difference-maker. Let’s take a look at Fournette’s history up until his joining of our Bucs last week.
Getting to know Leonard Fournette, St. Augustine High School
As a High School Freshman, it was soon clear that Fournette was going to be something very special. That season he rushed for 1,735 yards and 22 touchdowns, averaging an impressive 192.8 yards per game and 10 yards a carry. The powers that be were watching and led to Fournette being the first high school freshman to ever garner a scholarship offer from in-state power LSU. Injuries took away his sophomore season, but he returned with a vengeance in his junior year, producing 2,135 yards on the ground with 31 TDs, and three more receiving. Needless to say, the folks in Baton Rouge were salivating at the thought of his arrival.
Louisiana State University
Fournette’s best season at LSU was by far his sophomore season when he put up almost 2,000 yards rushing with 1,953 and crossed the goal line 22 times rushing and once receiving. In his last year at LSU his Junior season, injuries allowed him only to play in seven games which of course led to a dramatic drop off in production. His worth was already cast though and when he decided to declare for the draft after his Junior year he ended up a top 4 pick in the NFL Draft.
Taken fourth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he didn’t disappoint in his rookie season. Fournette finished that season with 1,040 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. His season ended that year in the AFC Championship game against now team-mate Tom Brady’s Patriots. In his year two campaign (2018), injuries hampered his numbers, but he bounced back for meaningful stats in his third season (2019) of 1,152 rushing yards with 3 touchdowns. More impressive may have been his receiving stats, which were 76 receptions for 522 receiving yards. He was targeted 100 times last season through the air. That’s the kind of workload that surely stood out to Arians and staff.
A believer in Ronald Jones
I’ve been a believer and a fan of Ronald Jones. I have believed that this season would be his break-out year. I also assumed that Jones would be getting a significant amount of carries in 2020. That scenario is looking to be doubtful now with the arrival of Fournette. He easily has the opportunity to become the lead back on this team, and barring injuries; should be. If healthy, 1000 yards rushing should be an afterthought, and between 500 to a thousand yards receiving would also not be surprising in the least in Brady/Arians’ offensive scheme, and his ability to be a part of the passing game. I said it wouldn’t be all that surprising, I didn’t say it was expected. What is expected by many of us Bucs fans is that if he can escape any season-ending injury(which isn’t a given, with his history) that he can easily become the lead back on this Bucs’ team and produce at a high level.
Not a “homer” but all the same, I believe
I don’t want to be labeled a “Homer” with this article, and my anticipation and excitement with Fournette’s arrival. Simply stated, the Buccaneers running game has a chance now of being a formidable weapon in an already very strong offensive squad. The running game was the most glaring weakness on the team. What Jones and Vaughn may have brought to the table was somewhat of an unknown. What Fournette can add to the game if healthy is almost a given. He will have success here, to what level is yet to be seen. This I believe, I can say without reservation, Fournette will be a much more important addition to the team than Gronkowski will end up being. No dig on Gronk, but his health will most surely become an issue at some point in the season. Just because he took a year off and healed doesn’t change his propensity for injury. I believe we just added the final piece of the puzzle. Fournette is still young and somewhat fresh; he would have been still playing under his rookie deal in Jacksonville had he stayed. As long as he doesn’t become a problem in the locker room or off the field, the sky is the limit. After all, not many running backs that play here have been so highly touted since their freshman year of high school. Consider the final piece of the puzzle added. Now, it’s time to let it all play out. Go Bucs!!