PITTSBURGH – Jacksonville Jaguars personnel czar Tom Coughlin looked to spark a turnaround by mining the SEC West early in the NFL draft.
His decision looks brilliant through the first five weeks of the season. The Jaguars dominated Pittsburgh on Sunday in a 30-9 rout, thanks in part to two rookies on offense.
Running back Leonard Fournette and left tackle Cam Robinson turned in spectacular efforts in helping the Jaguars (3-2) grab first place in the AFC South and match their win total from last season.
Coughlin was hired in January by Jaguars owner Shad Khan and his first draft is paying huge dividends. He selected LSU’s Fournette with the fourth pick and traded up in the second round to take Alabama’s Robinson.
Fournette carried 28 times for 181 yards with two touchdowns against the Steelers.
Both scores were phenomenal. His first was a 2-yard run, but Fournette leaped from the 4 and landed a yard deep into the end zone. Even for the NFL, this was a display of incredible athleticism.
“I noticed the line knocked everyone down,” Fournette said. “It was kind of stupid of me. I jumped 5 yards. I was nowhere near the goal line. I jumped 5 yards back, and I made it. I was surprised myself.”
Fournette’s second score put the game away. He broke a 90-yard run, the longest regular-season run in franchise history. His breakaway speed was supreme.
“It was well-blocked,” Fournette said. “I noticed the safety blitzed in. When (right guard) A.J. (Cann) pulled, nobody was there. Coach kept saying to fall down, fall down. I just kept running. It was one of my longest runs so far. It was great. … Nobody was there. I just took it and ran. My biggest thing is just don’t get caught.”
No one came close.
No one came close to making Robinson look like a rookie, either. So much so, that when asked about Fournette, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone felt compelled to single out Robinson.
“Cam Robinson, he is the other guy that is getting lost in this whole thing, the job that Cam Robinson is doing,” Marrone said. “I’m not going to try and take away from the other four (linemen) because they are doing a nice job. But you are talking about two rookies coming in here.”
Marrone noted that both came from great programs, but still wants people to understand the difficulty of what Fournette and Robinson are doing.
“What I like about these two guys is that they go to practice every day, they are excited about football, they are fired up and they have a confidence about themselves,” Marrone said. “They work hard to get where they are. I think that is one of the main things. I think, when people talk to me about Leonard, I think about Cam Robinson, too.”
Fournette is second in the NFL with 466 rushing yards and tied for first with five rushing touchdowns. He is the fifth player in NFL history to score a touchdown in each of his first five games.
“There is not one thing we have asked him to do that he has not be able to do for us from the workload standpoint,” Marrone said.
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