After an outstanding rookie campaign in 2020, James Robinson is proving he isn’t a one-year wonder. The Jacksonville Jaguars running back is currently on pace to have a better year statistically speaking. He’s been dominant over the last four weeks and was Pro Football Focus’ highest-ranked running back during that stretch.
In the first two weeks of the regular season, Robinson ran the ball 16 times for 72 yards with no touchdowns and earned a 72.0 PFF rushing grade. The former Redbird started to get more carries in Week 3 and has toted the rock 68 times for 388 yards with five touchdowns since then. Moreover, he’s posted a rushing grade of 90.9, the highest mark in the league in that span.
In spite of his slow start in 2021, Robinson is among the statistical leaders in most meaningful categories. His 460 rushing yards are sixth in the league, and his five rushing touchdowns are tied for second. On the other hand, he’s tenth in carries with 84. This means that he’s performing at a high level even though he isn’t getting as many opportunities as other running backs in the top 10. For comparison, Derrick Henry leads the NFL in carries with 162. Joe Mixon is second with 111 and both Ezekiel Elliot and rookie Najii Harris rank third with 102 each.
Moving forward, the Jaguars can’t decrease Robinson’s workload. If anything, they should increase it a bit more. The Illinois State product hasn’t toted the rock more than 18 times in a game this season. He could get five or six more carries per game and still remain effective. Here’s PFF’s post on social media that highlights Robinson’s outstanding performance since Week 3.
James Robinson is the workhorse back the Jacksonville Jaguars need.
Back in 2020, Robinson totaled 1,414 yards from scrimmage, the most by an undrafted rookie in NFL history. Nevertheless, the team’s brass used a first-round pick on Travis Etienne. Heading into the 2021 season, the Jaguars envisioned James Robinson and Etienne forming a dominant backfield tandem. However, the idea had to be scrapped after E-T-N suffered a Lysfranc injury in the preseason. Still, their rushing attack hasn’t missed a beat, and that’s thanks to Robinson, who is playing like a top running back.
Although it’s too early to judge the decision to take Etienne with the 25th overall pick in the 2021 draft, the early results aren’t encouraging. Robinson is proving the selection might have been an unnecessary luxury and it will be interesting to see how the Clemson product will fit the offense next year.
The Jaguars are building the offense around quarterback Trevor Lawrence but the coaching staff needs to keep getting Robinson involved. It paid off to give him a bigger workload since Week 3. They shouldn’t deviate from that formula for the remainder of the 2021 season.