Mysteries are so much more interesting when they remain unsolved. Once a mystery is explained, it is no longer a mystery, it is just a thing that happened.
Well, the enigma surrounding who will get the bulk of carries in the Jacksonville backfield received some clarity Sunday. And it didn’t even take any help from Scooby-Doo and the gang, it just took one game and those meddling kids on the Colts, who kept the Jaguars in the game.
After inexplicably releasing franchise foundation running back Leonard Fournette during training camp, no one was certain who was going to get the primary bulk of carries for the Jags. Would it be Ryquell Armstead? Possibly Devine Ozigbo? Chris Thompson, new signee Dare Ogunbowale, undrafted rookie James Robinson?
Well, some of these questions answered themselves. Armstead was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list, after battling illness and a groin injury in camp, and could be out “a while,” coach Doug Marrone told the media last week.
Ozigbo suffered a hamstring injury last week and was placed on injured reserve, though he is eligible to return after three weeks. That move was made to make room for Ogunbowale, to provide an emergency option behind two active RBs in Week 1.
That left Robinson and Thompson to carry the load against the Colts on Sunday. And let’s just say, there wasn’t much of a split. Robinson got virtually all of the work. He had 16 carries, Thompson none. Thompson’s main role was expected to be the passing-down option, but he had just two catches for 6 yards. Robinson had one for 28.
And let’s get back to those 16 carries for Robinson. Ten of those came in the first half, for 61 yards. The Colts defense responded, stacking the box to stop him and forcing the Jags to resort primarily to their passing game. And that is something to take into account when determining how much of your free-agent budget to spend on Robinson.
Sure, Gardner Minshew had an impressive day (19 of 20, 173 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions). That isn’t always going to happen. He is going to have a fair share of bad games. Meaning the Jags will fall further behind than they did Sunday.
Also, many opponents won’t keep them in the game the way Philip Rivers and the Colts did. Meaning the Jags will fall further behind than they did Sunday.
Thus, we expect Thompson to get more work in those games when the Jags are playing catch-up. We also expect some other backs to muddle the mix a bit in the coming weeks. But this is Robinson’s running game right now.
In traditional waiver-wire leagues, of course you should place a claim, but we don’t recommend busting your FAAB budget to get him.
Robinson is a roster-depth addition, not a roster savior. He is a Scooby snack, not a meal. Spend accordingly.