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View from the O-Zone: "Edgy" a good look for Next Jaguars Star


JACKSONVILLE – This wasn't him. He wasn't that player.

That was Allen Robinson's reaction last offseason, before he became the Jaguars' Superstar in Waiting, and quite likely their next Pro Bowl player.

No, when Robinson watched video of the rookie version of himself last January, he saw a guy not quite aggressive enough, not quite bold enough.

It wasn't awful. Not by any stretch. It just wasn't him.

And it sure isn't what he is now.

"I wasn't playing on the edge," Robinson said this week, adding of his approach this season: "That's what it is, it's just playing edgy. It's a real physical game. I've just been trying to play on the edge a little more."

Playing edgy … is that what you call what the second-year wide receiver is doing?

Actually, it fits, doesn't it? Playing boldly, aggressively, with confidence – even a bit of cockiness. Jawing with opposing cornerbacks – not to mention an opposing fan or two. Winning enough 50-50 balls that teammates call you 75-25 now because 50-50 isn't enough. Acting like you're damned good because … well, because you are.

Playing edgy …

Yeah, it fits, and it sure fit Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee. Robinson played so close to the edge that day to catch 10 passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns and take over the second half of the Jaguars' best offensive performance in, in …

Well, who knows when, frankly?

*Playing edgy. *Robinson has done it all season, because of that, he has become what the Jaguars have been seeking for a while now – a go-to receiver on the verge of become a bona fide superstar.

"I think we're seeing that – everybody is seeing that," Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Wednesday. "The casual fan watching probably two years of Allen has seen tremendous growth and strides on his part."

As the season began, you looked at Robinson and saw a guy who could be good. Maybe really good.

Now, what do you see? The Jaguars' best player? Maybe.

A guy who can be elite? Definitely. A No. 1 receiver? Well, yeah.

A Pro Bowl player? That's tougher, because Robinson is still a young player on a 4-8 team. The Pro Bowl is a reputation game, and Robinson's reputation isn't quite at the level of his production or performance.

But make no mistake:

Robinson deserves to make the Pro Bowl. He is at that level, and there seems little doubt there are Pro Bowls in his future. He's that good.

The reasons are many-fold. Size. Strength. An ability to get open deep that makes the whole not-quite-fast-enough thing that kept him out of the first round in 2014 seem a bit silly.

But mostly it's his determination, aggression. The ability to outmuscle and even out-will a cornerback for the ball is more than just a characteristic of Robinson's now. It has become a weapon, maybe the Jaguars' best weapon right now.

It's what he didn't see often enough from himself last season. And it's what he decided early in the offseason had to change.

"We talked about it," Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns said. "We both stayed here this offseason, and that was one of his points of emphasis, just going up and getting the ball."

Consider the point emphasized.

"As you can see, as anybody in this building knows, once he started OTAs (organized team activities) and (training) camp, he was doing it," Hurns said.

He hasn't stopped yet. Robinson's performance Sunday gave him a franchise-record 11 touchdown receptions this season. It made him the first Jaguars receiver since Jimmy Smith in 2005 to surpass 1,000 yards receiving, but forget the numbers. The most memorable scene Sunday was Robinson hurling the football at the end-zone wall, unbuckling his chinstrap and staring into the stands before being mobbed by teammates.

That doesn't quite jive with Robinson's relatively subdued demeanor off the field.

But was that a glimpse into the real, on-field Robinson?

Images from second-year wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

"For sure," he said with a smile. "That's how I've been since I've been young playing. I think that's me. Last year it was a little bit of me dipping my toe in the water. Talking to [Jaguars Head] Coach [Gus] Bradley, as the season went on last year, he told me to just go out and play, go out and be myself."

Consider the advice taken, and consider the result a player emerging as a defining force for this franchise. What we are seeing in Robinson is a young player growing into himself, a rookie becoming an NFL man. It's cool to watch, and encouraging stuff for Jaguars fans.

Because you get the idea watching Robinson this season this is only the beginning, and that the guy they call 75-25 is going to push the edge for a long, long time.

You get the idea, too, that when he watches himself this offseason he's going to like a lot more about what he sees.

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