James Robinson has yet to make much of an impact for the Jets. Since the running back was traded to town by the Jaguars at the deadline, he’s rushed for just 75 yards on 25 carries in three games.
To add to his quiet Jets tenure, head coach Robert Saleh made Robinson a healthy scratch for last Sunday’s win over Chicago. And because of it, the third-year back isn’t holding back any frustrations.
“Obviously, I didn’t come here not to play,” Robinson told Rich Cimini of ESPN this week. “Obviously, they brought me here for a reason. I don’t expect anything unless I work for it, and I’ve been working my ass off. Me not playing pisses me off.”
Robinson additionally wonders what the Jets even have in store for him while he’s still on the roster.
“You probably have to ask them what their game plan is for me,” he said. “I’d do the same, but obviously I’m going to continue to work my ass off. I can’t go in there begging. They can see what I do on the field.”
Robinson has a right to be pissed, but the Jets also have a point in not playing him.
Robinson’s side. It may seem like Robinson is stirring up problems with the organization en route to a potential release request. But I’m sure that’s not actually the case here.
I’m sure Robinson is just temporarily frustrated with his role (or lack thereof) — and why shouldn’t he be? Why wouldn’t anyone in that situation be? These are professional football players who have dedicated their lives to this game — anyone not playing a good amount should be frustrated and using the discouragement as sheer motivation.
It was acceptable for wide receiver Denzel Mims to be frustrated when he was a healthy scratch from Weeks 1-6. It’s acceptable for Robinson to be irritated now, too.
The Jets’ reasoning. But at the same time, the Jets have a right to build the running back committee the way they wish.
Let’s look at the facts here:
The Jets traded for Robinson for insurance purposes, not for him to be the lead bell cow. They acquired him because talented rookie running back Breece Hall tore his ACL in Week 7, not because they needed a clearcut starter on the roster. The lead back amid Hall’s absence was always going to be second-year man Michael Carter.
The Jets only sent a 2023 sixth-round pick (which will become a fifth-rounder if Robinson rushes for 260 yards as a Jet this season) to Jacksonville for Robinson’s services. There wasn’t a major investment in the guy at all — it certainly wasn’t the investment the Jets made in Hall, the No. 36 overall pick in April’s draft.
It’s not like Douglas was mortgaging the future for Robinson. So playing him consistently hasn’t been a requirement for the coaching staff.
And also, to be blunt, Robinson hasn’t been all that productive since his 2020 rookie campaign.
He rushed for 1,070 yards in 14 games during that first season in Jacksonville. This averaged out to 76.4 rushing yards per game. However, Robinson ran for only 767 yards in 14 games the following year (54.8 yards per game). In 2022, he’s racked up just 415 rushing yards in 10 games (41.5 yards per game).
He’s a newer, younger version of Phillip Lindsay: A solid rookie year, but then the difficulty of sustaining success as a modern-day NFL running back ultimately overshadows everything.
So yes, Robinson has a right to be upset. And he should be upset. But the coaching staff has a point favoring guys like Carter and Ty Johnson right now.