Jaguars have to lean more on RB James Robinson against the Broncos

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson finished fifth in the NFL in rushing, had 1,414 yards of total offense, and scored 10 touchdowns as an undrafted rookie in 2020.

Yet he had just five carries in the Jaguars’ 2021 season-opening loss against the Houston Texans.

That, Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said, cannot continue. Robinson has to be a bigger part of the offense, starting with Sunday’s home opener against Denver at TIAA Bank Field (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

“He’s got to get more,” Meyer said.

A lot more.

Robinson gained 25 yards on his five carries and caught three passes for 25 yards against the Texans. That’s eight total touches. Robinson didn’t have a single game in 2020 in which he had fewer than 12 carries (against Detroit and Tennessee), and the fewest touches he had in a game was 16 (again, against the Lions and Titans).

“Even though I didn’t get that many carries, I was still able to help,” said Robinson, who was targeted six times and had one drop. “I could have had a better day as a pass-catcher. There was a lot of balls I should have caught. We all had our bad day. We’ve got to get that out of our system and move on.”

Meyer and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Robinson’s lack of carries was related to sloppy and undisciplined play. The Jaguars had two holding penalties, an illegal formation penalty, and they had to call timeout twice to avoid delay of game penalties in the first quarter alone. The penalties put the offense behind the chains, and Robinson didn’t get his first carry until the fifth play of the second quarter.

The Jaguars also threw the ball 12 straight times to start the game before the first run: a Carlos Hyde carry for 9 yards.

“I wouldn’t say we weren’t able to get him going, we just weren’t able to run the ball in general,” Bevell said of Robinson. “… We just have to do a better job of orchestrating, handling our business. We had a couple holdings, you had a couple of other things that happened that we have to stay out of those situations, and that’ll help and take care of that.”

It’ll still be a tough day against the Broncos, who limited the New York Giants to 60 yards on 20 carries in a 27-13 victory on Sunday. Saquon Barkley managed just 26 yards on 10 carries, and the Giants’ longest run of the day was 8 yards – and that was by quarterback Daniel Jones.

Robinson pretty much was the main weapon the Jaguars' offense had last season, but the addition of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and receiver Marvin Jones Jr., as well as healthy receivers Laviska Shenault Jr. and DJ Chark Jr., were supposed to open things up offensively. That should have made things easier for Robinson.

When Meyer was asked if one of the priorities this week is getting Robinson and the run game going again, he responded: “Yes, and yes.” That way he won’t have to have his rookie quarterback throw 51 times.

“We better not be a 51-dropback-times-a-game [team],” Meyer said.