Behind The Leonard Fournette Benching

February 13th, 2021

As Joe has shared several times, the Bucs were 8-0 this season when Leonard Fournette got 10 carries or more.

It was no coincidence. Fournette had eight touchdowns and 34 catches in those games.

It’s almost hard to remember when “Playoff Lenny” was getting little work, looking below average and perhaps pouting a bit.

He got benched after the Bucs’ bye week against the Vikings. And today on, there’s a nugget from Bucco Bruce Arians sharing a bit about the Fournette crossroads.

That brutal honesty came into play in 2020 and may have helped define the season. Running back Leonard Fournette, who signed as a free agent after being unceremoniously released by Jacksonville, was sulking on the bench behind starter Ronald Jones.

“I said, ‘This is your situation. It can change at the drop of a hat,’” Arians said. “But this is your situation. Either embrace it, or you say, ‘Cut me.’ I said, ‘What do you want? Because this is a very special team that you’re part of. I think you’ve got a feeling of that. Just see if you can hang in there to see what happens.’ And he did, and I’m really proud of him.”

A great and highly underrated coaching by Arians.

So now what? Do the Bucs pay Fournette in free agency and risk him sulking again (with a winning record and playing with Tom Brady). Joe wonders how Bucs officials will view the Fournette experience.

58 Responses to “Behind The Leonard Fournette Benching”

  1. Tony Liga Says:

    I say cut him unless he is reasonable about his contract.
    Sad to say but running backs are a dime a dozen and Fournette
    is getting older. If he wants to be reasonable then sign him, otherwise
    let him go, there are more important priorities.

  2. Beeej Says:

    I’d love to swap him out for James White. He’s one of those guys like Evans, only cares about the team

  3. Casual Observer Says:

    I’d hate to lose Fournette. He is the most reliable receiver among the RBs – so an extra (sometimes surprise) weapon for Brady to use. I hope they can keep both LF and RoJo. But, if not, my preference is LF.

  4. Cobraboy Says:

    LOL @Arians leaking that Fournette is an attitude problem that got him s#!tcanned in Jax.

    Driving LF’s price down?

    Liar’s Poker. Arians and Licht are Master’s…

  5. Coburn Says:

    Yeah he looked a lot better after the benching. Was good for him

  6. firethecannons Says:

    Take a real good back at #32 let Fournette and Shady McCoy walk

  7. Aaron E May Says:

    I think the market will out price us – Sign James White he’s a free agent

  8. Destinjohnny Says:

    Dude was a difference maker
    I don’t think we win it all without him

  9. Destinjohnny Says:

    Bet we can get him for 4 million per
    We have to start drafting d line and Lb hard
    Dudes a bird in the hand

  10. gp Says:

    @ firethecannons
    Trade out of 32 for an extra 2nd and 3rd unless a special talent playing a position of need is still available.
    More rookie contracts and fewer 1st rounder “premium” contracts might keep us afloat through the cap cut season.

  11. Steven007 Says:

    gp, I generally agree with that strategy but the advantage of a low first-round pick is we can get a good player on a 5-year deal instead of a 4-year deal.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    RoJo still under rookie deal, he ain’t goin nowhere.. Lenny might be tho. RIP PLAYOFF LENNY!! 🙁

  13. Godlovesbucs Says:

    Fournette was worth it last year. He most likely will not be worth it this year, as his role should be the same, therfore the contact should be a little less due to cap constraints. His earnings were 2.5 mil, so offer him 2.0 for the year. If he wants to be a part as a role player he stays. If he wants to cash in and be a full time starter, wish him the best.

    When carrying the ball, Rojo looked far more explosive. I also saw fournette miss blocks and drop more passes than he should have. If those 2 reasons are why he is here, we can replace that with many other options on the cheap.

  14. gp Says:

    @ Steven007
    Gotta weigh the pro’s and con’s.
    Imagine what we might have done with the draft capitol gained from trading the first overall 6 (now 7) years ago?
    I was all for it.

  15. FlBoy84 Says:

    Mike Davis is a FA RB that I’d love to see us add who is both a solid runner and a great receiver as well, finishing 4th in RB rcpts with 59 for the year. Would be a solid replacement for Fournette, though I’m not sure Car lets him out of the building.

  16. Bird Says:

    I ate crow on fournette this season.
    He started out running so soft for a big back
    I gave him crap for sure. Liked rojo as better runner but rojo has stone hands

    Fournette turned it up in playoffs and hands are decent
    Not sure bucs can pay what he is looking for unless he takes discount
    He is not important as defense and godwin

    Bucs can draft javonte williams at their spot and not miss a beat.
    Javonte has great hands too. Better then fournette
    Williams not much different then alabama and clemson running back
    Brady likes that back to dump off too
    We struggled at times this year
    That late pick and javonte is co-starter with rojo

  17. Adrnagy Says:

    Two face in action …
    It’s not about the team. Or players. Is how you handle situations as a coach. Leader of the team. Players followed Brady perhaps Bowles. Not two face.

  18. Steven007 Says:

    gp, I don’t disagree. It’ll all come down to who’s available at 32. hopefully there is a huge run on quarterbacks at the top of the draft pushing good players down.

  19. #1bucsfan Says:

    Fire the cannons I think someone to replace jpp or suh should be our #32 pick.

  20. Bird Says:

    Adr nagy

    Two face? The players love him
    You dont cause you think he didnt give jameis a fair shot. 😂
    You think bucs still win if you had jameis with these players?
    Dude 7 starters wouldnt be here without brady
    You look terrible as normal

    Keep drinking that toilet water with jameis floaters still in it
    Remember 5 years 150 mil for jameis and to book it

    For that comment alone …your take = negative 0

  21. All lives matter Says:

    I say sign him and cut him if he becomes a problem. Jacksonville had no problem cutting him during the season.

  22. ModHairKen Says:

    JPP, Suh, Shaq, David, all important. Godwin, important. Fournette had a good run. But if he pulls a Jameis and asks for Tag money, he’s gone. His best bet is to get a 2 year deal and keep restoring his reputation. AB better take what he can get because TJ and Miller can step up. Also, anyone who suggests Donovan Smith should be allowed to walk next year is not thinking clearly. He and Marpet are great together.

    Draft and FA should be about DL and OL depth. And replacing anyone who leaves.

    That recount of the conversation between him and Arians shows what Arians brings to the table. Good stuff. Sound advice.

  23. lowercaseg Says:

    He did well this year but I don’t think we should sign him. Defense wins championships, and the money should be allocated to them.

  24. Adrnagy Says:

    I think fournette goes to the dolphins. Shaq goes to the lions. AB goes to Washington

  25. Buc1987 Says:

    Adrnagy…most players that have played or play for “two face” say he’s a playe’rs coach and it seems he’s very well liked. I think you’re off base as usual.

  26. Marine Buc Says:

    It would be nice to have Lenny back but only for the right price and only if he understands his role as a rotational back…

    If he wants to chase a big deal let him go to the Jets or Cincinnati…

  27. Davenport Says:

    2 yrs, 5 million … or cya! James White will want alot more than that.

  28. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Adrnagy just couldn’t help himself after not being able to talk bullspit since November. Always prying the negative out of nothing but positives. And I disagree, Tony Liga, that running backs are a dime a dozen. History shows the Bucs recently had a dozen running backs who weren’t worth a dime.

  29. Stu Says:


  30. TheBradyBunch Says:

    Gtfo Ardnaggy! Arians just brought a Lombardi to Tampa six days ago and you’re calling him names! What a troll.

  31. Bucszntkt Says:

    I didn’t think playoff Lenny was all that great for most of the year. Joe’s buddies at PFF rated both his blocking skills and pass catching skills as yielding less than expected yardage when compared to the average for that situation, prior to this year.
    It may well be quite easy to find a replacement, but it has to be someone who can catch coming from the backfield. Brady reverted to his old ways , relying a lot on the RB to catch a short pass in the SB. We also know that won’t be RoJo. Despite RoJo working on catching all off season he still sucks at catching.

  32. mg Says:

    White is not the power runner of playoff Lenny. What about a 1 year incentive laden contract?

  33. DC_BUCCS_FAN Says:

    Lenny walks Vaugh looked good and runs extremely hard, just has to hang onto the ball and the staff speaks highly of him. James White will be on the roster and grab a RB late in the draft

  34. D1 Says:

    “Running backs are a dime a dozen.”

    Ok, so the bucs had what. ..8 or 9 cents the past 5years. ..

    Last year we all agreed the team needed a RB. The year before and before that one too. The team finally gets a guy , who is cheap , performed better than the other guys …and now there’s a group who believes it’s not worth keeping him and we can easily find another back to replace him.

    I love the team, but GD the fans are beyond help!

  35. Youngbucs Says:

    Don’t bring him back

  36. Youngbucs Says:

    Everyone sacrificed this year I knew he was sulking. He served his purpose do not resign we have guys who are high character who deserve it!!!!!!

  37. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    As long as he does not price himself out of what we can afford, I want to see him return.

  38. SOEbuc Says:

    What I do remember is RoJo being the #1 RB 5.1 yard/car. When he got at least 17 carries we were 4-1, with four 100 yard games. Got 23 carries against CAR for 192 yards and 98 yard TD. Week after he got 10 carries for 66 yards. What a joke. Lenny will definitely be remembered in the playoffs and SB, but I certainly remember being extremely pissed during the season when he was running into brick walls like a Koetter scheme and RoJo was on the bench.

  39. Joey Smith Says:

    Listen all, forget signing someone else! Keep Fournett, he’s reliable and will be even better next year, give him more incentives on his contract! There’s not a lot of big backs out there, big backs wear defences down and will make it easier for Brady and the Tampa Bunch to score more points, they’ll be better next year! Go Buc’s!!!

  40. Sumosam Says:

    Fournette is one of the best running backs in the league. You need at least 2 good ones on your team going down the stretch. I say he is priority if he wants to be here. The front office should know by now if he he likes playing in Tampa. If he does, pay him. I know I like him here.

  41. cmurda Says:

    I like Lenny and he was instrumental in our Super Bowl run. ROJO was banged up though and Lenny seized the opportunity. He definitely created some value for himself. We don’t have the luxury to pay top dollar for him and quite frankly, Lenny’s hands are average. There are many other RB’s out there with better hands that can pick up blitzes. He’s valuable but only worth it at a reasonable price.

  42. Tc Says:

    Gotta have him especially at crunch time. Rojo is really inconsistent and has hands of stone.

  43. David sheppard Says:

    Good player great comeback.

    From being inactive to scoring the dagger TD IN SUPERBOWL.
    Leonard is a baller

    Always has been

  44. steve gaudreau Says:

    If Lenny wants money… And he should, signing White would be a good idea. Rojo and Vaugn looked good running it and White and McCoy if he stays can be catching backs. I know what James White can do, so does Tom. Love to see Lenny stay but if the name of the game is money and he can get what he wants well then good luck with the cash on a lesser team.

  45. Jason Vaillancourt Says:

    Keep the team the same. They’re only going to get better

  46. B Says:

    um…I still don’t get exactly why he was benched?

  47. SOEbuc Says:

    I don’t think they drafted Vaughn in the third to have him ride the bench. I think Vaughn is also a promising young looking player. Especially in his second year coming off that SB and has got his feet wet in the league.

  48. Florida man Says:

    Congrats Leonard was elated by our signing of you. Would really enjoy seeing you back next year to watch that screen game burn some Teams and get you open and in space; could watch that all day

  49. James Walker Says:

    There will be a very long line of very talented RB wanting to play in Tampa next year.

  50. Hissylizzard Says:

    Good running backs are not a dime a dozen….but that being said,adrian peterson is available and wants to play in Tampa, he is still good…if he can get 1,000 rushing yards on an abysmal Washington team, he would be even better in Tampa…but Fournette proved his worrh….make him a reasonable offer and if he doesnt take it,let him walkcant be on a winning team and get top dollar….Should Brady ask for $35 million now?why not ?he just won a sb and Prescottt will without doing a damn thing… some others that are called elite….YOU would think these guys would see Brady and take notes…..but all they care about is their brand

  51. Blue Coffee Says:

    Draft big guys on DLine and Off-Line first. A edge rusher also for the rotation later. Keep Fournette if he is not top$, or, if he is too much $, go for James White because White have the trust of Brady, is the RB with most yards and TD in the last few years by the pass, and he is affordable, and a free agent.

    Shagy is done.

    Why Vaughn was not more implicated? He looked good to me when he was called on duty. Was it his drop? He is a rookie, we can expected some mistakes, no?
    Just asking.

  52. firethecannons Says:

    Keep playoff Lenny, the dude has found a home! Pay Lenny and he can alternate with ROJO. Lenny performed at a high level when it really mattered–priceless! Work on Vaughn–he wasn’t drafted for nothing.

  53. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    James White. Fournette helped the team a lot but I think he’s a bit self-involved and was just average most of the season. I don’t see him being content in year 2 as a role player.

  54. sgrd0q Says:

    James White is a free agent, won’t cost more, and the best back who can catch with chemistry with Brady. Sign him.

  55. Jehrman Says:

    I like the James White Idea, but I’m not sure he has much left in the tank.
    I hopefully Vaughn can do some receiving work next year and is better at protecting the ball. I could see signing white very cheap if he takes a teams friendly deal and having him work with Vaughn to develop as a pass catcher.

  56. BillMFL Says:

    Let Lenny go if the price isn’t right. Keep Godwin and as many of the defense stars as possible. AB too if cheap. Look to the draft and free agents for backups for both lines and pass catching back.

  57. JimmyJack Says:

    Signing him is a good move. But if his price is too high I dont see it as a big deal. Dont think the Bucs will have any problems finding a good quality RB who will wanna come to Tampa. A few mentioned James White. Not a bad option. Not the only option.

  58. lambeau Says:

    James White is not worn out; at 29 he’s had 308 career rushes–Marshall Faulk had that some single seasons, and Lenny had 340 touches in Jax in 2019.