James Robinson: One Hit Wonder or Super Sophomore

James Robinson had a great rookie season but will he receive the same workload? An improved offense could lead to an even better year.

Not much went right for the Jacksonville Jaguars after their only win against the Colts in week 1 of 2020. The lone bright side on the offense was undrafted free agent James Robinson. He came out of nowhere and early on showed why the Jaguars cut 1st round pick Leonard Fournette. With a new GM and coaching staff, the question is what does his sophomore year hold.

Ineptitude in 2020

James Robinson was able to finish 5th in the NFL in rushing despite the Jaguars being the worst team in the NFL. They finished near the bottom in almost every category.

  • 30th in Points Per Game
  • 29th in Yards Per Game
  • 32nd in Total Rush Attempts
  • 31st in Time of Possession
  • 28th in Points Per Drive
  • 31st in Score Margin

New Coaching Staff

Urban Meyer

The Jaguars made a splash by hiring former Gator and Buckeye head coach, Urban Meyer. In his most recent stop, Meyer only had 9 losses in 7 years. He is a proven winner in all of his past stops and has been known as an innovative offensive mind. While at Ohio State, the running percentage was at 60% but did include many QB-designed runs. There is some question if Meyer will want to bring his own “guy” at running back but Meyer reiterated the importance that Robinson will have in the offense.

Darrell Bevell

Urban Meyer decided to hire former Detroit Lion Offensive Coordinator and stated a big reason was “His ability to adapt to my vision of the offense”. There will be some collaboration between Meyer and Bevell but looking back at Bevell’s history as a play-caller gives some positives for Robinson moving forward. Before Russell Wilson was the superstar he is today, Bevell eased him into his rookie year. In 2012, Bevell ran the Seahawk’s offense and it ranked 1st in rush attempts and 32nd in pass attempts. In that year Bevell used a dominant back, Beast Mode himself, who had 71% of the running back carries. From 2012-2015, Bevell’s offense ranked top 5 in rush attempts in the NFL.

Since that time, Bevell has not had a dominant back and his offenses’ rank in rush attempts averages around 21st in the NFL. Another positive about Bevell’s history is the number of targets that the running backs receive in his offense.  Robinson only received 10% of the Jaguars targets but Bevell averaged over 17% in his last 8 years as a coach. In 2020 the Lions under Bevell, lined up in Shotgun 60% of the time, which is good for Robinson because he lead the NFL in the highest yard per carry from Shotgun in 2020.

Jaguars in 2021

With just an improvement in coaching, the Jaguars should improve on their record from a year ago. The QB position should be upgraded with the expected selection of Trevor Lawrence with the 1st pick in the NFL draft. The Jaguars also have 10 additional picks in the upcoming draft to upgrade the lack of talent on the roster. Through free agency, Meyer has helped both sides of the ball, including providing some running back support with the signing of former Buckeye, Carlos Hyde.

Outlook for JROB in his Sophomore Season

Robinson as a rookie benefited from 71% of the Jaguars’ carries in 2020 and with the emphasis of the front office wanting to improve the running back room, this will most definitely decrease. So far with just the signing of Hyde, these worries should be limited. Hyde is a solid back but is not going to be in competition to take the job over. The team could add another back in the draft but it seems unlikely that it would be in the first couple rounds.

Even in his great rookie campaign, James Robinson only received 30 carries inside the red zone, which is 21st amongst all NFL players. He only added 5 receptions in the red zone and finished with 8 total TDs from inside the 20. Overall Robinson had great efficiency, even though, he constantly was running against stacked boxes and the Jaguars were consistently behind and had to catch up.

It was foolish to think the Jaguars would not add players to the RB room, as after Robinson the unit was by far the worst in the NFL. Most teams now are trying to save their RBs shelf lives by using more of a running back by committee. The Jaguars should move up from the bottom in rush attempts per game and even if Hyde or rookie cuts into Robinson’s carries, there should be plenty of opportunities. With a better offense, there will be longer drives, more red zone opportunities, and allow Robinson to be even more efficient. In ADP Robinson is going as the 16th RB and I think that is way too low. I still think he will be a top 12 RB this year with even the ability to outdo his rookie year. He is a player that is being slept on and it would be a mistake to not have him on your dynasty roster.


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