The Jaguars submitted a desultory performance Sunday during a season-ending loss to the Texans. Apparently Tom Coughlin didn’t like what he saw on Jacksonville’s sideline, either.
Following his team’s 20-3 defeat, Coughlin blasted a pair of Jaguars running backs, Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon, for their demeanor while seated on the bench. Both Fournette, who was injured and inactive for the game, and Yeldon, who was active but did not play a snap, appeared disinterested in their teammates’ efforts, piquing the ire of Jacksonville’s executive vice president of football operations.
“I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette,” Coughlin said in a statement. “They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player.”
Yeldon, Jacksonville’s second-round pick in 2015, is in the final year of his contract and is expected to depart in free agency this offseason. Fournette was drafted fourth overall in 2017 to be the Jaguars’ offensive centerpiece, and his public scolding by Coughlin put an unhappy cap on a disappointing, turbulent sophomore season.
Hampered by injuries, the LSU product played in just eight games, rushing for 439 yards on 133 carries for an unimpressive 3.3 average and five touchdowns. He added 185 yards and a score on 22 receptions, but was also suspended without pay for a game earlier this month after coming off the bench at Buffalo to engage in fisticuffs with a Bills player.
The Jaguars have reportedly also been frustrated at what they saw as Fournette’s slow recovery from a hamstring injury and his conditioning upon his return. The running back, listed at 6 feet and 228 pounds, is relatively large for his position, and he appeared to have put on some extra weight during the season.
Jacksonville, which battled the Patriots in last season’s AFC championship game and was expected to contend again this year, instead struggled through a 5-11 campaign in which quarterback Blake Bortles was benched for several weeks. Nevertheless, Jaguars owner Shad Khan said after Sunday’s loss that his team’s brain trust, including Coughlin, Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager Dave Caldwell, would return in 2019.
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