Leonard Fournette ‘Can’t Wait To Get At It’ With Mike Mitchell Again

In 13 games during his rookie season, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette only managed to average four yards per carry or more in four games. He averaged under three yards per carry in more games—five, to be specific—and his season average ultimately checked in just a hair below four yards, which is routinely seen as a standard baseline for rushing success.

He also had just 57 yards on 21 carries in his first career playoff game against the Buffalo Bills, averaging 2.7 yards per carry for his efforts. For a player who found after his first preseason skirmish that the NFL is “a lot slower” than he expected and “really easy”, his efficiency metrics don’t really back it up.

Perhaps that is why he is excited to return to Heinz Field, where he authored the best game of his rookie season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry in that game, one of only two games in which he averaged more than 4.2 yards per carry. He rushed for 181 yards and scored twice, and considers his two touchdowns in that game his best plays of the year.

One thing Fournette is not afraid of is a workload. He averaged over 20 carries per game, including the postseason, in the 14 games in which he has played so far. He has authored five 100-yard games, and the majority of them were acts of sheer attrition.

Dave Bryan really dug into the rookie’s numbers for us recently, pointing out that he has had a below-average success rate on his carries all season, with the numbers even trending downward. So in spite of his self-confessed aversion to playing and being tackled in cold weather, he is hoping to find the NFL ‘easy’ again versus the Steelers’ run defense.

Part of that run defense is safety Mike Mitchell, with whom the rookie exchanged some words during the previous meeting. The two were jawing at one another throughout the game, but there was one moment in particular in the fourth quarter, where the running back waved at him after breaking a tackle.

Mitchell didn’t take kindly to that, but Fournette doesn’t chalk it up to an act of disrespect. He called it “competing” recently, and said of the Steelers defensive back, “he’s a great safety and can’t wait to get at it with him once again”.

The ninth-year veteran has managed to rub a number of people the wrong way over the course of the past four years in Pittsburgh, including many in Cincinnati—and for that matter, many in Pittsburgh. But nobody can doubt his passion and dedication.

Mitchell will always speak his mind and will always look to back it up as well. He believes highly in himself and in his teammates, and as a result has a tendency toward claims that teeter toward boasting. He is driven by his competitiveness, and no doubt is looking forward to bringing Fournette down on the cold, hard grass soon.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Doug Andrews

    Mitchell don’t take the bait. Stay focused on the bigger picture let’s dominate!

  • PittShawnC

    I mean, this in a nutshell is the exact reason a lot of people don’t care for Mike Mitchell. Hard not to be annoyed when a guy woofs after a tackle, a dive at the legs, down 20-9 in the 4th…after a what, 10-12yd gain?

  • capehouse

    better than getting stiff-armed like Dupree did.

  • Orlysteel

    Fournette won’t be this fortunate this time around guaranteed, like Ayayi found out last year.

  • Brian Moritz

    Mike Mitchell needs to shut the hell up. He has SUCKED for the past couple of years, and I’m sick and tired of hearing him run his mouth.

  • Paul Barnett

    If Mitchell wants to tackle him, he’d better learn how to wrap, instead of just hitting him with his shoulder.

  • Steeler4life

    If MM is making a lot of tackles on Fournette, than Fournette is gaining a lot of yards. We rather have our DL or LBs making yo tackles.

  • JackHamLambert

    Mike Mitchell has done well for us, maybe celebrates a bit too much for many of us but, a key role player that receivers have to think about

  • BurghBoy412

    I agree. If Mitchell is making a lot of tackles. That’ll be a sign this game isn’t going well at all.

  • Christopher Carey

    Has anyone seen Fournette’s numbers the last few weeks? I think he’s either injured or has hit the rookie wall because he hasn’t done much recently.

  • FATCAT716

    This is not Mitchell saying anything this is Fournette speaking

  • StrengthOfVictory

    In fairness, he didn’t dive at his legs; he went right to the hip/thigh area—much like Troy used to do. When dealing with a big back like Fournette going at near full speed, you need to hit him.

  • The Tony

    I think sucked is a bit of an overstatement. Yes he had been late or taken a bad angle to a play but saying he sucked is wrong. The best thing a a guy in the secondary can do is not have his name called. People tend to forget that. Mitchell might be late on one play a game and that’s what everyone is going to chirp about. Just like offensive lineman, they get beat once for a sack or get one penalty and then people say they suck, that’s not factoring the 60 other plays in a game where they did their job well

  • The Tony

    Exactly. A 250 pound running back going full speed in the second level. Good luck taking him down head to head

  • The Tony

    Same goes with Burns and Davis

  • heath miller

    seriously… have you ever seen him play ?.. probably he hardest hitter on the team … that is an amazing comment

  • The Tony

    That depends on if we are using Mitchell more in the box. Mitchell is a better tackler than Davis, so it wouldn’t be too surprising is Mitchell is playing closer to the line. I am just waiting for Hilton to get in the backfield and take down Fournette for a loss of 4

  • The Tony

    Fournette has been dealing with an ankle injury for the majority of the season. I’ve been burned by him on fantasy too often this year

  • GoSteelerz

    In college, Hilton put Fournette out of a game with a routine tackle. Nothing dirty, and no actual injury, just a deep bruise from a hard hit. Hopefully Hilton can put the hammer on him again… Love Hilton, he’s a real football player, glad we have him!

  • Paul Barnett

    I totally agree. Too many times, they think, that just putting a shoulder on the player, is going to bring them down, but it doesn’t. That’s why they have sooo many missed tackles. It’s basic fundamentals. WRAP, when you’re making a tackle.

  • Intense Camel

    I think both Davis and MM are equally bad tacklers.

  • Intense Camel

    He’s sucked this year for sure.

  • Andrew

    I think he had about 90 yards on 27 carries in the first meeting before the garbage time 90 yard run made it look like a great game. He’s been “meh” most of the year with only volume and touchdowns making his season look pretty good. Maybe that’s what happens when everyone stacks the box because your quarterback isn’t qualified to work at the snack stand inside an NFL stadium.

  • Axe Skot

    Yeah, right, like everyone hated Joey Porter, too. I don’t personally care for all of the jawing, but some guys thrive on it.

  • cencalsteeler

    If the line does it’s job, the backers don’t overpursue and our ends maintain outside containment, the only time MM should see Fournette is shaking hands after it’s all over.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Have to think about burning?

  • Phil Brenneman II

    I don’t think you have to worry about Mitchell making a lot of tackles lol.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    I am not a Mitchell fan but he didn’t suck, he was mediocre. I think part of why it looks worse to some people is because here on the Depot there was a vocal few who kept calling Mitchell a pro bowler which was just ridiculous.

    So if you read that and are looking for pro bowl level play you weren’t going to find it.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Joey Porter was able to get away with it more because he backed it up with his play. He was a very good LB. Mitchell is a mediocre safety that talks and celebrates like the best in the league.

  • Brian Moritz

    I’m sorry, but you’ve got to be kidding me. Mitchell is consistently out of position, slow to read the play, and whiffs on more tackles than he makes. Yeah, he does have some good hard hits every now and then, I’ll give him that. And, to his credit, he has cut down on the personal fouls this year that he seemed to get one or two a game before. But yeah, he sucks, and is clearly the weak link on the team

  • Conserv_58

    There is no reason to see that scenario take place again as long as the linebackers, Mike Hilton and Sean Davis do their jobs.

  • Paul Rainey

    Spot on with the analysis

  • Jason

    Yep. I’ll never forget last season him getting up and celebrating after a big hit 20 yds down field and while he’s acting like a moron his teammates are trying to recover a fumble he wasn’t aware of cuz he’s too busy being a clown.

  • Jason

    Many on here don’t allow criticism of their heroes. You are looked at as an inferior fan if you give a negative opinion.

  • nutty32

    This game is going to be physical. Love it. Doesn’t get any better than hard hitting, cold weather January football. Snow flurries in the 4th would be like icing on the cake. Enjoy it while you can.

  • Orlysteel

    Tell it to him Brian.

  • Steeldog22

    Yeah but the only reason he hit Fournette is because Fournette ran at him on purpose. Otherwise he’d have missed him by a couple of yards.

  • GravityWon

    Fournette will be stopped in the backfield on most plays so Mitchell won’t get many opportunities.

  • Wil Masisak

    A couple of solid licks and Fournette will be wondering where that nice, warm heater is.

  • Matthew Marczi

    To be honest, I think his 2015 season was borderline Pro Bowl worthy. Other than that, though, nah, not so much. He’s been solid though, even through injuries.

  • Matthew Marczi

    And about 95% of the league, sadly.

  • MC

    For once this season Mitchell, please bring it.

  • MC

    I’ve thought he’s been misjudged in previous seasons but this season wow, he’s been bad. Anytime I see him he is trailing someone running into the end zone. i can’t recall him ever breaking up a pass or making a big run stop all year.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    I dunno Matthew, I know it isn’t all about numbers and there is more to it than that but he had a similar stat line to Will Allen that year and NOBODY was talking about Will Allen being a PB guy. Heck, most people didn’t want him playing at all lol.

    MM – 80 Tackles, 0 Sacks, 9 PD’s, 3 INT’s, 2 FF’s
    WA – 80 Tackles, 4 Sacks, 8 PD’s, 1 INT, 2 FF’s

    It was certainly his best Steelers season and a solid one for him but nothing that would stand out to the rest of the league. He has been a solid contributor but this year and last you can really tell he has lost a step.