Jaguars must lean on James Robinson and Travis Etienne moving forward

Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (25) and QB Trevor Lawrence at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (25) and QB Trevor Lawrence at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

Two people can have the same date and still come up with two different conclusions. This was the case for the Jacksonville Jaguars backfield this past offseason. There were some analysts that view the group as a strength because of the presence of Travis Etienne and James Robinson, others saw it as a question mark due to the injuries the duo suffered last year. While the 2022 season is still in its infancy, it looks like the Jags have a dynamic running back tandem and they should lean on it moving forward.

Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report recently discussed one change every NFL should make following Week 1 and he suggests Jacksonville increase Etienne’s workload. Knox argues that Trevor Lawrence is still developing and the coaching staff can make his life a whole lot easier by getting Etienne involved.

"Etienne missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury but flashed his potential in Week 1. He averaged an absurd 11.8 yards per carry and 9.0 yards per reception. But despite playing 51 percent of the offensive snaps, Etienne logged only four carries and two receptions (on four targets).Lawrence, who played with Etienne at Clemson, should feel comfortable having the 23-year-old as an outlet option. Etienne had 914 rushing yards, 588 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns in his final year with the Tigers and is a legitimate dual threat who should be more than just a change of pace back behind James Robinson."

The Jaguars drafted Etienne 25th overall last year even though Robinson was coming off a season in which he totaled 1,414 yards from scrimmage, the most by an undrafted rookie in NFL history. Then again, his big-play potential might have made him too good to pass up in the first round.

James Robinson should be the Jaguars’ lead back in the 2022 NFL season

Head coach Doug Pederson recently told the media that Robinson showed in his return from injury how important he is for the team. Moving forward, he should play an important role on the offense. In fact, he should get more than 11 carries per game. Something between 18 to 20 seems reasonable. Of course, he’s coming from a serious injury, so the Jags can’t increase his work so much right now. Instead, the coaching staff needs to get him more involved progressively.

Having said that, the Jaguars must also make Etienne an important part of the offseason. He’s definitely more than a change-of-pace back but Robinson is still the team’s top running back. That doesn’t mean the Jaguars should keep Etienne on the bench but rather that he needs to see a bigger workload, not just as robust as Robinson’s. 10 rushes, along with Robinson’s 18-20 would be ideal.

It’s true that Trevor Lawrence is still developing and leaning on Robinson and Etienne would force opposing teams to load up the box, which would in turn give the Jags more favorable matchups in the passing game.

Even though running backs are no longer the focal point of most offenses, the Jaguars have two good ones in Robinson and Etienne. The former will probably get a bigger workload in 2022 but the coaching staff must find ways to also incorporate Etienne and his potential for big plays.

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