What spot did the Jacksonville Jaguars get in Pro Football Focus’ recent running back ranking?
Teams like the Cleveland Browns and the Tennessee Titans know the importance of having an elite ground game. Although the running back position doesn’t have the same impact it had 30 years ago, it’s still important to have one that can move the chains in short-yardage situations and catch the ball out of the backfield.
Fortunately, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a couple of talented running backs in James Robinson and rookie Travis Etienne. They, along with veteran Carlos Hyde, will give the Jags the ability to run the ball often, and efficiently in 2021, so where did they land in Pro Football Focus’ ranking?
Ben Linsey of PFF ranked all 32 NFL backfields ahead of the 2021 season and the Jaguars popped up at 15. He points out that Robinson played well last season, finishing the year with a 72.9 overall grade and a 78.5 rushing grade.
Linsey goes on to say that “Etienne brings more explosiveness to this unit” and highlights the fact that he led all running backs in college football with 588 receiving yards in 2020. Overall, he has a favorable opinion of the Jaguars’ backfield.
"Robinson, Etienne and Hyde give Jacksonville a relatively deep group who all bring different skill sets to the offense."
Running back is a strength for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021.
James Robinson was a revelation last year, racking up 240 carries for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns. He might have finished the season with even better numbers if he hadn’t suffered an ankle injury that kept him out of the last two games. Also, the Jags’ running game took a hit with the Redbird out of the lineup, so they brought in reinforcements in the offseason to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
First, Jacksonville signed Carlos Hyde, who played for head coach Urban Meyer back at Ohio State. That wasn’t the only move the team’s brass made to upgrade their running back room. The Jaguars went on to draft Travis Etienne in Round 1 of the annual selection meeting. At the time, the pick might’ve like an unnecessary luxury but the Clemson product has had a productive training camp.
E-T-N has broken off several long runs in practice and has displayed the burst and ability that made him a top running back prospect ahead of the draft. It’s uncertain how much playing time he will get in 2021 but Robinson will now be able to catch his breath and the ground game won’t suffer a dropoff in production.
Furthermore, Hyde is a solid complementary player. He has appeared in 90 games and made 58 starts throughout his seven-year career. As recently as 2019, he carried the ball 245 times for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. Even if Robinson or Etienne misses time, the Jaguars’ backfield will be in good shape.
Running back is one of Jacksonville’s strongest positional groups. The offense will revolve around rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence once he shows he’s ready to take the reins. In the meantime, the Jaguars’ coaching staff can rely on their dynamic backfield.