The Jacksonville Jaguars have a dynamic player in running back Travis Etienne, who totaled over 1,400 yards of offense in his first full NFL season. Heading into Year 2, Etienne is expected to have an equal (or bigger impact). For this reason, it's not particularly surprising to see him earn a high spot in a recent power ranking.
Former Jaguars player Maurice Jones-Drew put together his first running back index of the season and listed Etienne at No. 6, noting that he wouldn't be surprised if he gains 1,600 yards from scrimmage in 2023. MoJo believes this is possible because Etienne has been working on being better in the offseason.
"Jacksonville's second-year coach Doug Pederson sees Etienne gaining 1,600 yards on the ground in 2023. I could see it, too. Etienne worked all offseason on attacking the hole downhill, which should help him become even more efficient than he was last season. That’s saying a lot, considering he averaged 5.1 yards a pop in 2022."
Etienne, a first-round pick in the 2021 draft, missed his rookie campaign with a Lisfranc injury. Although he was a full-go to begin the 2022 season, James Robinson got the starting nod. However, he made the most of his chances and was installed as the top back by Week 6. Not long after, Jacksonville traded Robinson to the New York Jets, which was the right move in retrospect.
While Robinson has struggled to latch onto a team, spending time with the New England Patriots, the New York Giants, and possibly the Indianapolis Colts in the future, Etienne proved he could be a workhorse runner who, despite the arrival of rookie sensation Tank Bigsby, will have a huge role next season.
The five running backs that Jones-Drew ranked higher than Etienne were Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders), Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans), Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns), Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers), and Saquon Barkley (New York Giants). All of these backs had a productive 2022 season and a proven track record, so their spot in the index feels warranted. It's also worth noting that Etienne had a higher spot than Christian McCaffrey (San Francisco 49ers), one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league.
Jaguars RB Travis Etienne is gaining lots of praise heading into the 2023 season
It's great to see Travis Etienne get the attention he deserves around the league. And the only reason he may not have more name recognition is that he's only played one full season. Just recently, former running back LeSean McCoy said that the Jaguars' offense revolves around him. While that's not certainly the case, he's indeed a valuable piece. As MoJo noted, he's been working on being more decisive when hitting the hole. Head coach Doug Pederson said as much earlier this year.
While it's hard to see Etienne crossing the 1,500-yard mark with Tank Bigsby in the fold, he should once again rack up over 1,000 yards. He did enough in his sophomore campaign to make you think he'll have a featured role in 2023 even if his rookie counterpart also thrives.
The Jacksonville Jaguars should feel about their running back room heading into the 2023 season, knowing they have a pair of capable running backs in 2023. That said, Travis Etienne is the most talented of the two, which is why he got the nod in Maurice Jones-Drew index heading into the season opener.