You know what they say, don’t cut your chickens before they hatch. Or maybe it’s count your chickens … either way, the point is to practice patience. Thankfully, that’s exactly what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did with Leonard Fournette.
It almost didn’t work out that way, though.
At one point during the regular season, Fournette and the Bucs considered parting ways. According to Kevin Patra with NFL.com, the former top-5 pick was unhappy with his role, and it took a blunt conversation with Coach Bruce Arians to right the ship.
Fournette had signed with the team following his release from the Jacksonville Jaguars. His role included working in tandem with fellow running back Ronald Jones, but it was clear that Jones was the better option.
After Fournette was listed as inactive in Week 14, he and Arians sat down for a much-needed conversation.
“I said, ‘This is your situation. It can change at the drop of a hat,'” Arians told Rick Stroud with the Tampa Bay Times. “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.”
No, the LSU product hasn’t lived up to his draft position. But no one would deny his importance to the Bucs’ offense down the stretch.
Things started to heat up in the last three weeks of the season. Sure, the yards per carry remained an issue, but Fournette also scored three touchdowns during that stretch. Then in the playoffs, he turned things on by totaling 448 yards (300 rushing, 148 receiving) and four touchdowns.
The result? Fournette was able to help Tampa Bay secure a Super Bowl win against the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s why you don’t cut your chickens before they hatch … or whatever.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.