Statement from Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin: “I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette. They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player.”
— John Oehser (@JohnOehser) December 30, 2018
The statement doesn’t specify what “disrespectful, selfish” behavior Yeldon and Fournette showed in Week 17. But the CBS broadcast showed the pair of running backs sitting on the bench looking disinterested during one of the Jaguars’ offensive possessions.
Fournette was inactive with an ankle injury, but Yeldon was active. He didn’t touch the ball at all in the loss, though. Yeldon is set to become a free agent in the offseason, and likely played his final game with the Jaguars.
The more interesting situation is with Fournette, who may be on the trading block in the offseason after another injury-plagued season. He finished the year with just 439 rushing yards and five touchdowns in eight games, with only 3.3 yards per carry.
Fournette was the first draft pick the Jaguars made after hiring Coughlin in January 2017 when he was selected No. 4 overall. Quitting on Fournette after only two seasons would be quick, but the Cleveland Browns were smart to make a similar decision with Trent Richardson in 2013.
His rough season included an ejection for fighting in a November game. That incident didn’t draw a statement from Coughlin:
It’s interesting to me that Tom Coughlin felt it necessary to release a statement after Leonard Fournette spent a game sitting disinterestedly on the bench, and not when, you know, he sprinted from the sideline and started punching an opposing player in the face.
— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) December 30, 2018
Big changes are likely coming for the Jaguars after a 5-11 season that began with Super Bowl hopes. That won’t include shuffling in the front office, though:
Trading Fournette was a logical move even before Coughlin released a statement Sunday raking the running back over the coals.