Despite the Jets winning their fourth consecutive game, something the franchise has not done since the 2015 season, there was a somber feeling looming over the fanbase. This was due to the fact that key starters on offense, Breece Hall and Alijah Vera-Tucker, were injured during the contest and their injuries appeared to be significant. Hall had developed into the team’s focal point on offense and Vera-Tucker had become their best offensive lineman. Many viewed Vera-Tucker as the team's most valuable player due to his ability and versatility.
Bad News Strikes New York
The Monday following the win brought the team some bad news, as both Hall and Vera-Tucker were ruled out for the remainder of the season. All hope seemed to be lost during a rather promising season. Well, except for General Manager Joe Douglas, who took action later that same Monday to replace the team’s lead back. Douglas called up the Jacksonville Jaguars, who had a running back they no longer desired after the emergence of second year back, Travis Etienne. This running back goes by the name of James Robinson and may provide hope after a rough 24 hours.
Douglas strikes again
The Jets acquired Robinson for a sixth round selection in the upcoming draft that has the ability to become a fifth round choice if Robinson surpasses 600 rushing yards for the season. The twenty four year old back already has 340 yards, so it is very likely he will surpass that number. The Jaguars were giving Robinson fewer and fewer touches each week and the Jets were in need of a running back to complement Michael Carter. The Jaguars get a draft pick for a player they no longer wanted, and the Jets get a young running back that has been productive throughout his entire career, seemingly a win for both parties
What does Robinson provide the Jets?
Robinson had very low expectations entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent but quickly emerged as the focal point of the Jaguars offense during his rookie season. The Illinois State product rushed for 1,070 yards on 240 attempts while also scoring seven touchdowns on the ground. He also added value in the receiving game, as he caught 49 passes for 344 yards while scoring three touchdowns. As an undrafted rookie, Robinson accounted for 1,414 yards, the most in NFL history by an undrafted rookie, and ten touchdowns. These were very astonishing numbers for a player no one thought was worthy of a draft selection. He was also able to do this behind a very anemic Jaguars offensive line. His numbers fell in the 2021 season, but through no fault of his own. He was only able to manage 776 yards and eight touchdowns, but his attempts decreased from 240 to 164. New head coach Urban Meyer seemingly refused to use Robinson early on in the season, which confused everyone across the league and is probably an indication of why his coaching tenure did not even last a full season in Jacksonville.
Another questionable decision by Jacksonville was drafting Travis Etienne in the 2021 NFL draft when they already had a 1000 yard rusher on their roster. Etienne ended up missing the entire season due to an injury, so Robinson remained the lead back. Fast forward to this season, Robinson started off as the lead back, but saw his touches diminish as the Jaguars leaned on Etienne more each week. It got to the point where in their week seven contest against the Giants, Robinson saw zero carries in the loss. It was clear Jacksonville was ready to move on and many wondered why that was. Robinson was still averaging above four yards a carry and seemed to be fully recovered from his injury the season prior.
The Jets saw this young, talented, and underutilized back and decided to make a move before the trade deadline. New York relies on their rushing attack heavily, as their passing game has been rather supar since quarterback Zach Wilson returned to the lineup. Their recipe for winning has been a strong defense and a punishing rushing attack. In order to maintain their rushing attack, they needed to replace Hall and they did exactly that with this move.
Robinson’s vision and one-cut-and-go play style will fit in well with this Jets offense. Although he lacks the top end speed of a back like Hall, his hard nosed running style will fit in well with the newly established Jets culture. The Jets will lean on Carter and Robinson a lot in their week eight matchup in New England, as the team looks to extend their win streak to five games and further fight their way to their first playoff appearance in over ten seasons.