Jaguars running back James Robinson was seemingly benched following his second-quarter fumble in favor of backup RB Carlos Hyde on Sunday during the team’s 21-14 loss vs. the Atlanta Falcons.
With 7:52 to go in the second quarter, Robinson would take a handoff, going just one yard before coughing up and losing the first fumble of his young career.
The Falcons would then march down the field, scoring a touchdown following one of the many gaffes made on the day on special teams, giving Atlanta a new set of downs as they were slated to kick a field goal.
Following that possession by the Falcons, Robinson would be nowhere to be found, even as the Jaguars marched 70 yards downfield, kicking a shut-out saving field goal.
Instead, in his place would be Hyde, the team’s veteran backup RB. Hyde ran the football twice for nine yards on the drive.
Following the game, Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer would be asked about Robinson’s absence. The running back was seen on the sideline with his helmet on, without any cause for alarm nor injury concerns.
Meyer simply deferred to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and running backs coach Bernie Parmalee to account for Robinson’s absence, noting that he doesn’t micromanage the rotation.
“You’d have to ask [Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell] Bev and [Running Backs Coach] Bernie [Parmalee] on that one,” Meyer said after the game when asked why Robinson wasn’t in the contest at a crucial moment. “I don’t micromanage that. But Carlos is a good player, too, so they might have had him in there for that reason.”
While it has typically been the case that Hyde would spell Robinson for a bit of time, third-string RB Dare Ogunbowale would be seen on the field-goal drive, too, dropping a crucial pass in the red zone. Why then, was he on the field? Meyer certainly wouldn’t have an answer for that, either.
Typically, a given rotation at any position is handled by a position coach or offensive coordinator, which is standard. However, it is the responsibility, for the large majority of head coaches to interject when they feel it’s necessary. Meyer clearly didn’t and the team’s best player wasn’t on the field for one of the most important drives of the game.
Robinson, of course, would finish the game as the team’s lead tailback, returning to the lineup during the second half of action. He finished the contest running 17 times for 86 yards, posting a 5.1 yards per attempt average.
Perhaps it wouldn’t have made a difference in the drive if Robinson was in or not, but it should be up to Meyer to figure out how to get the best players out on a given drive. Apparently, he doesn’t feel the need to, and that could end up costing the Jaguars even more down the road.