JACKSONVILLE – He's the early-season talk of the Jaguars.
So, on Wednesday, the Jaguars talked about James Robinson – who in a little more than a month has gone from little-known rookie running back to perhaps the team's best offensive player.
"We have so much belief in James," quarterback Gardner Minshew II said Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-3) prepared to play the Houston Texans (0-4) at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.
"He's really proved that he can do it all for us."
Robinson, who signed with the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent shortly after the 2020 NFL Draft, has done that – and then some. And when coaches and teammates discuss the player who has more yards through four games than any undrafted player in NFL history, they discuss more than rushing yards.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone on Wednesday reiterated what he has said often about Robinson in recent weeks, praising his ability as a complete back and not just as a ballcarrier.
"His understanding of the scheme and his protection and just really all the aspects of what you need someone to do: protection, catching the football, carrying out fakes, understanding the scheme, being productive…" Marrone said. "I think really he's someone that checks all the boxes."
Robinson, who played collegiately at Illinois State, has rushed for 285 yards and three touchdowns on 60 carries and he has 14 receptions for 161 yards. His 446 total yards are the most through four games for an undrafted player in NFL history.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on Wednesday praised Robinson's vision and ability to be productive after contact.
"He had a couple really strong runs last week where we didn't get to everybody, but he made two people miss in the hole and had some positive runs down the field and in the holes for three, four-yard gains between the tackles, outside the tackles," Gruden said. "I think we can be more creative with him, get him some more balls out in space.
"The more we give him, the more he seems to perform. He seems to exceed our expectations, so it's our job to make sure we continue to utilize him and go from there."
Robinson has averaged 15 carries per game, with his carries limited at times. The Jaguars have trailed by 10 or more points in the second half of their last three games and have therefore passed more in the second half. Robinson has 34 first-half carries and just 26 in the second half.
"That's the goal," Gruden said. "We have to put ourselves in that position. That means we have to start faster, finish some drives, and keep the game in reach where we can use him for 60 minutes, not just 25 or 30, so we're excited to see that. He's done nothing but impress us in every way, shape, or form, so I'd love to get him some more touches and those will come in the third and fourth quarter."
Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. on blocking downfield for Robinson: "It's pretty easy. Honestly, just run and get in the way. That's it or you're running for a second and then he's passed you and then it's off to the races. I like it. If I have to come in, get a safety, I know I'm going for the kill shot but if I can't get it, I have to get a little bit of him and he's going to get out and make somebody miss or he's going to run somebody over and allow me to talk smack, so I like blocking for him."
Minshew on whether he considers himself a franchise quarterback: "That's not anything I can decide for myself. It's something that I just try to be the best I can be for our guys each day out there in practice. I try to be the best guy each time we step out there on Sundays. I know I'm going to give my all and compete for them and they're going to do the same for me and I think as long as we do that, we're going to get this thing going [in] the right direction."