Time to panic on James Robinson?

There are different types of alarms. Some are un-intrusive, soft beeps, maybe reminding you your food is done in the microwave. Some can be jarring, like the loud blasts of a bedside clock or cell phone. Others can be ear-splitting torture, like that of a smoke detector.

Well, after Week 1 of virtually every NFL season, there are smoke detectors across the land screaming at league managers. What those managers have to determine is if there is really a fire – or if they just overcooked the bacon.

Primary among these alarms are those surrounding James Robinson. The Jaguars running back, who was the waiver-wire find of the 2020 season, was thought to be the alpha in the Jacksonville backfield after an injury to first-round rookie Travis Eitenne.

But new coach Urban Meyer apparently has other ideas. At least, that is how it looked in a blowout opening loss to the woebegone Texans. Robinson got just five carries, gaining 25 yards. Carlos Hyde had nine carries, but tallied 44 yards. Robinson also had three catches for 29 yards on six targets; Hyde two catches for 14 yards on two targets. Neither reached double digits in PPR points.

But before we start panicking that the house is on fire, let’s check to make sure it’s not just the stove. In the first half, when the Jaguars were still in the game for part of the time, there were seven times Robinson touched the ball or was targeted, and just three for Hyde.

James Robinson rushes for the Jaguars against the Texans.
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Coming out of the break, down 27-7, Hyde started seeing more of the action, getting eight touches/targets to just five for Robinson. That includes Hyde getting virtually all the work late — the final six RB touches/targets.

So do we panic? Not yet. We’re gonna fan the alarm with a towel but keep our eye open for any additional smoke. This likely was a result of gameflow, with the Jags falling so far behind. I mean, Meyer can’t be dim enough to lean on an over-the-hill back who was just “pretty good” at his best while disregarding one of the team’s best players from the season before, right?

Yet, the Madman is a bit more alarmed by what’s going on in the 49ers’ backfield. We anticipated third-round rookie Trey Sermon to be the heir if (once) Raheem Mostert went down with an injury. Instead, Sermon was a healthy inactive, and it was sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell who stepped in when Mostert went down early.

Elijah Mitchell scores a touchdown against the Lions.
Elijah Mitchell scores a touchdown against the Lions.
Getty Images

Mitchell essentially torched the bad Detroit defense in the fashion we expected from Mostert (19-104, one TD). So, to rip from our own Twitter account: Is Elijah Mitchell the new Trey Sermon before the Old Trey Sermon could even become the Real Trey Sermon?

The 49ers traded two picks to move up and grab Sermon, so we don’t think they’re ready to give up yet. But it is obvious he has work to do to get in the good graces of coaches, and the best we can hope for in the immediate future is a timeshare with Mitchell.


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