The reasoning behind Jacksonville's surprise release of Leonard Fournette is starting to become clear, and as the focus sharpens, a No. 30 jersey is coming into view.
James Robinson built off his encouraging regular-season debut by breaking the century mark in rushing yards Sunday and scoring his first career touchdown in Jacksonville's 33-30 loss to Tennessee. His 102-yard finish was the first time an undrafted rookie finished with 100-plus rushing yards and a rushing score since Baltimore's Gus Edwards did so in Week 15 of the 2018 season, per NFL Research.
With no preseason games to give us a preview of the player Jacksonville had on its roster, we're allowed to be pleasantly surprised. His coach isn't, though.
"What you guys are seeing now is probably what I've been seeing all of camp," coach Doug Marrone said, via ESPN. "Just a real steady, good football player. If there's something there, he's going to find it. He's not going to make mistakes and lose yardage for you, and [he's going to] try to keep the chains going. He's a tough runner.
"He's got a little burst getting through the second level. I was happy to see him take that one to the end zone."
When the Jaguars released Fournette just before the start of the regular season, most looked down Jacksonville's depth chart, saw Robinson's name and thought: who? With nothing but a name on a depth chart to explain the potential of the former first-team FCS All-American's talent, we were left only to wait to see whether Jacksonville's roster move would blow up in its face.
Instead, it's been Robinson exploding through defenses with the football in his arms. The one-cut back has shown unusual burst in his first two games, with his touchdown run against Tennessee demonstrating how quickly he can sprint through a defense. Robinson invites contact, and isn't afraid to use his athleticism (see: Robinson's hurdle on a long run in Week 1) to gain extra yards, too. According to Next Gen Stats, Robinson has gained the ninth-most rushing yards over expectation (RYOE) in the NFL (among running backs with at least 10 carries) with 26. He's also helped the Jaguars gain eight first downs, the third-highest total of chain-moving runs among those in the aforementioned top 10.
Through two games, the Jaguars have run the ball 41 times with either Robinson, Chris Thompson or receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.. Robinson has handled 32 of those carries, clearly making him the bell cow in a development that seemed very unlikely just a month ago.
"He makes blocking fun," receiver D.J. Chark said, via ESPN. "Because you're blocking for two, three seconds and you see him running by you. It makes you want to go out there and get you a pancake [block] or something."
Jacksonville is 1-1, much more competitive than expected and fun to watch as a result. Look no further than No. 30 for an example of why.