Leonard Fournette left Jacksonville after being cut and headed southwest to Tampa to join Tom Brady’s Buccaneers.
Moving across Florida, the running back is glad to join a contender and isn’t fretting about what role he’ll play in Tampa.
“I don’t really worry about expectations,” he said. “Football is football. I’ve been playing the same game for 25 years. I mean, for the first time in my life, I really have a quarterback. So that’s eye-opening for me.”
To be fair, few quarterbacks in NFL history can adequately compare to Brady. On the other hand, the 25-year-old didn’t stutter noting it’s the first time he’s really had a QB.
Ignoring his high school and college QBs, Fournette’s first two years with Blake Bortles are likely holding the bulk of the weight in the RB’s mind.
Bortles’ struggles played a significant role in Fournette facing stacked box after stacked box his first two seasons. Particularly the disastrous 2018 from the QB was part of why the Jags sunk so quickly from playoff contender to afterthought.
Last year, things got off to a bad start with Nick Foles’ injury. Gardner Minshew played well behind a porous offensive line, throwing 21 TDs, six INTs and 3,271 yards in 12 games — compare that to Brady’s 24/8/4,057 in 16 games last year. It seems Fournette might not have been taking a shot at Minshew so much as differentiating between playing with a rookie QB rather and a 20-year vet like Brady.
Fournette added that in the Bucs’ offense, he doesn’t have to be the heavy-lifter for the first time in his career.
“And not a lot of pressure is gonna come on me,” he said. “As far as game-planning and changing things, it’s great for me. I’m happy to be back there with one of the greatest, well, the greatest that’s played this game, and I get to learn from him too. My first two days here, I was sitting here talking to him about other defenses, what he expects, what I expect from him, you know our expectations because they’re high right now. But we have to start with each other on the team to understand each other and get a better communication before anything.”
Coach Bruce Arians noted that Fournette is expected to have a “solid” role starting Week 1. What that means in the grand scheme of snaps in a backfield that contains Ronald Jones and LeSean McCoy remains to be seen.
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