Jaguars must help Travis Etienne if they want him to be even more productive in 2024

• Travis Etienne vows to improve in 2024 but the Jaguars must also give him a bit of help in 2024.

Dec 31, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1)
Dec 31, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) / Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Fourth-year running back Travis Etienne has become an integral contributor for the Jackosnville Jaguars. He's coming off the second 1,000-yard season of his career despite the fact that he often had nowhere to run behind a porous offensive line last year. Heck, the league recognized how good Etienne is by awarding him one vote for the 2023 Offensive Player of the Year Award. But as good as he was last year, he could be even better if the Jags give him a bit of help.

Although the former Clemson Tiger ran as hard as he did the season prior, he averaged 1.3 yards fewer per carry in 2023. Nevertheless, he was still one of the five running backs who have totaled 1,000 rushing yards in consecutive years.

Moreover, Etienne landed at No. 17 in Pro Football Focus' list of top 20 running backs from 2023. Regarding his inclusion, Gordon McGuinness points out that the Louisiana native led the NFL in broken tackles on carries with 64.

"While Etienne’s 3.8 yards per carry average tied for 40th among running backs, the blocking in front of him was lacking, as 2.9 yards of that average came after contact. Etienne was difficult to bring down with the ball in his hands, too, with his 64 missed tackles forced on carries leading all running backs in the 2023 regular season."

Etienne has made 34 consecutive starts after missing his rookie campaign with a Lisfrasc injury, totaling over 1,400 yards from scrimmage each of the past two years. But despite his success, the former first-round pick believes he didn't do nearly enough to help the Jags make the postseason in 2023. "I wanted to be in the playoffs," Etienne said via Demetrius Harvey of Florida-Times Union.

""Didn't meet the requirements of being a playoff team this year. I gotta find ways to proceed and improve my game [to] get better. So that next year, I'm in the playoffs. We're in the playoffs and we're playing for something.""

Etienne is entering his fourth NFL season. Since he was a first-round selection, the Jaguars could pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, potentially keeping him under contract through 2025.

The Jaguars need to help Travis Etienne if they want more from him in 2024

Etienne can certainly get better in 2024 but the Jacksonville Jaguars must also do their part and put him in a position to succeed. For starters, they must make upgrades across the offensive line. In particular, the Jags had a hard time pounding the ball inside. They need to make upgrades at center and find a long-term answer at left guard.

On the other hand, the playcalling must also get better. At times in the second half of the 2023 season, offensive coordinator Press Taylor abandoned the run, making the offense one-dimensional. Using play-action concepts more often could certainly help as well. It would prevent teams from stacking the box. This could in turn result in more favorable matchups for Etienne.

You could make the case that teams no longer build their offense around the running back and you would be right. The position no longer carries the same weight it did 30 years ago. That said, it still important to establish the run to keep defenses honest.

Moreover, there are instances in which passing doesn't make much sense and you have to call a run. Short-yardage and goal-line situations come to mind. That's where having a good running game would come in handy.

The bottom line is that the Jacksonville Jaguars have a keeper in Travis Etienne, who excelled in 2024 despite not getting much help. He did his part, it's time the Jags do theirs.

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