Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette’s career has been full of highs and lows. Being drafted 4th overall in 2017, a high. Being drafted at that spot by the Jacksonville Jaguars, a low.
Fournette had success with the Jaguars, amassing more than 1,000 running yards in his first season. His relationship with the Jaguars’ organization soon deteriorated and was released after just three seasons.
Enter The Buccaneers
Fournette wasn’t unemployed long as Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers came calling. At the time of the signing, then head coach Arians had this to say about Fournette.
“That’s one position I don’t think you can have enough good guys,” stated Arians. “That’s the one area where nicks and bruises really add up and when you can get a player of that caliber – I’ve gotten great reviews from people that know him and have coached him. He’ll fit right in and then we’ll see what role happens and how fast it can happen. RoJo is our guy, Shady is ready for his role, so it’s just going to be building roles as we go along and having enough quality players to finish this thing.”
Fournette quickly became a fan favorite but was still playing backup to Ronald Jones. That wasn’t sitting well with Fournette, he wasn’t happy and wasn’t producing, it appeared Fournette had hit another low. This started to cause tension between Fournette and the coaching staff, especially with Arians.
Recently, Fournette was a guest on The Rich Eisen Show, where he elaborated on this.
“It was rocky,” Fournette stated about his relationship with Arians. “Because I wasn’t starting. Everybody knows the story when he came to me about playing he was like, ‘Man, what do you want? I don’t want to release you, but if you want me to release you, I would…Do you want to be a part of something special?’ That’s how it happened, I got my stuff together, and we won a Super Bowl.”
The romance between Fournette and Arians may have developed later, but in his interview with Eisen, when questioned about the unexpected Buccaneers head coach’s resignation, Fournette expressed his gratitude and thanks first.
“Yes, I was,” Fournette on Arians retiring from coaching. “It was very unexpected. Nobody was expecting that at all…He text me a couple of minutes before and told me he was stepping down…he’s one of the best coaches I’ve been around. He’s a stand-up guy, hard-nosed, old-school coach. I love everything about him.”
New Coach, More Carries
The Buccaneers look to continue their recent success under new head coach Todd Bowles. Fournette’s ability to be an all-around back will be key for this team moving forward. Bowles is a different style coach from Arians. With Bowles at the helm, the Buccaneers will most likely run the ball more than under Arians. That might explain why Fournette was just re-signed to a three-year, $21 million dollar deal this offseason. That can definitely be seen as a high for Fournette.
So how does Fournette feel about playing under Bowles?
“I’ve always loved coach Bowles. Even when I played against him when he was the head coach with the Jets. He’s always been a standup guy, a tremendous guy, and I love playing for him.”
Like Fournette, the Buccaneers quest for a third Lombardi Trophy will be full of highs and lows. And we know at least one guy on that roster is prepared to be there for all of them.
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