JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone focused on the front.
The Jaguars’ head coach wasted no time Friday talking about the team’s struggling running game, and he also left no doubt:
That area needs to improve, and the issues start with the line.
“Right now, I feel like we’re not giving Leonard a chance,” Marrone said Friday, a day after the Jaguars’ 20-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans in an AFC South game at TIAA Bank Field.
“We’re not doing a good enough job up front. Things are happening too close to the line of scrimmage or even on our side of the line of scrimmage. That’s the first thing we have to emphasize – is creating that push, being able to get to the line of scrimmage before something happens.”
Running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 66 yards on 15 carries Thursday, with 69 yards coming on one run late in the fourth quarter. Fournette has rushed for 66, 47 and 69 yards in three games this season.
“I have no issues with how Leonard is working and trying,” Marrone said. “I think he might be trying too much because of the frustration. He has the ability to be a great player, but we have to do a much better job all around. We’ve got to get this thing going.
“We’re going to put a lot of work into getting that right, because we know as we keep going it’s going to be very difficult for us to keep winning games unless we get this run game going.”
Marrone, a former offensive line coach and run-game coordinator, said the focus moving forward will be leverage.
“Sometimes, we’re not maybe doing the best job putting our players in the best position from a standpoint of leverage,” Marrone said. “Are they closing the point of the defense? Are they constricting where they need to run? Things of that nature.”
The Jaguars started Cam Robinson at left tackle Thursday, with Andrew Norwell starting at left guard, Brandon Linder starting at center, A.J. Cann starting at right guard and Jawaan Taylor starting at right tackle. Cedric Ogbuehi rotated with Robinson and Will Richardson rotated with Cann.
Marrone said Ogbeuehi rotated with Robinson because Robinson is returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that kept him out the final 14 games last season, and that the team expects Robinson to be the starting left tackle. He said Cann and Richardson are competing at right guard, as they did before Richardson moved outside to start the first two game of the season for Robinson.
Richardson made that move because Ogbuehi missed the first two games with a hamstring injury.
“I still think there will be competition with the guards and Will, and we feel very comfortable about our tackle situation,” Marrone said. “We feel pretty good about that [tackle depth].”
Marrone also said Robinson’s return should help the area.
“When you look at our past, when Cam has played for us, we’ve done well in the run game,” he said. “That’s something that can help us.”
The Jaguars allowed no sacks on Thursday, and Marrone emphasized that “I think we’re doing a heck of a job in protection … we really are.”
“We just have to pick up the run game,” Marrone said. “It’s very easy to pinpoint protection issues. With the run game, it’s really collectively. You need more cohesion to be better in the run game. You need everyone to do a good job in the pass game, but it’s a whole lot easier to see what the problem is in the pass game.”