On the heels of a breakout season, Jacksonville Jaguars star receiver Allen Robinson has come back down to Earth in the first couple of weeks of the regular season. He has simply looked good but not great, and that isn’t going to cut it on a team clearly struggling to find its offensive identity.
Make no mistake, Robinson isn’t putting up abysmal numbers by any stretch of the imagination. He caught six passes for 72 yards in a 27-23 home loss to the Green Bay Packers. Even in Sunday’s embarrassing team effort against the San Diego Chargers—a 38-14 road loss—he still managed to come away with three receptions for 54 yards. These are passable statistics on paper for a good receiver, but not a great one.
Robinson racked up 80 receptions, 1,400 passing yards and a franchise-record 14 touchdowns last season, but he has yet to haul in one touchdown pass this year. Part of the problem has admittedly been the inconsistent play of quarterback Blake Bortles, who has looked shaky at best behind center. He is missing reads and forcing the ball into dangerous spots for receivers.
Robinson is listed on the depth chart as the No. 1 receiver because he is one of the best vertical threats in the league, but he was only targeted three times against the Chargers. There were at least four other players on offense targeted more times than he was in the blowout loss.
That is simply unacceptable.
Bortles acknowledged the need to get Robinson more involved in the offense when speaking to the media after the game, but the onus doesn’t completely fall on the shoulders of the quarterback. Superstar receivers still find a way to get the job done despite drawing extra attention from defenders, which has been the common theme so far for Robinson.
He isn’t the mystery he was a season ago when he was unleashed on defenses across the league. Teams have prepared accordingly to shut down his production and force Bortles to look to the next target. He rarely sees one-on-one coverage, and he is constantly being matched against top cover corners. Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett, a Pro Bowler last year, blanketed him all over the field on Sunday.
It’s a look the Jaguars better get used to seeing.
Robinson also has to find ways to get enough separation to make plays.
There’s no sympathy for any offensive juggernaut being keyed in on by a defense. The same thing happens to Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones on a weekly basis, and they still find a way to make big plays. Robinson has the ability and physical makeup to do some special things when the ball is thrown in his direction.
But consistency appears to be the only element lacking.
“I didn’t see this coming,” said Robinson. “We just had a bad day. There were times where they gave [Verrett] some help. He’s a good player and he played well.”
The Jaguars will be back at home in Week 3 trying to avoid a 0-3 start against the 2-0 Baltimore Ravens. Robinson will once again see extra attention from a safety over the top as he has in the two previous games. This is a copycat league, and the Ravens will try to mimic the winning formula against the Jaguars.
Will Robinson take things to another level or continue his disappearing act in big moments? His response this week will be a tell-tale sign of what’s to come.