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Impact of Travis Etienne’s season-ending injury on the Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars surprised the masses when they opted to use the second of their two first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft on Travis Etienne.

While Etienne shared a tremendous amount of success with Jaguars No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence at Clemson, running back didn’t seem to be too much of a need for Jacksonville. There’s also something to be said about a team coming off a one-win season using such a high pick on a running back.

But hindsight is 20/20.

The issue here is that Travis Etienne is now lost for the entire 2021 season after suffering a serious Lisfranc injury during Jacksonville’s preseason loss to the New Orleans Saints Monday evening.

Jacksonville officially placed the stud young back on injured reserve, ending his rookie season before it even started. Below, we look at how this will impact the Jaguars heading into Week 1.

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Travis Etienne injury impacts Jaguars’ backfield in a big way

jacksonville jaguars travis etienne injury
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne (1) fakes taking a handoff from Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) during first quarter action. The Jacksonville Jaguars hosted the Cleveland Browns for their only home preseason game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida Saturday night, August 14, 2021. The Browns led at the half 13 to 0. (Bob Self/Florida Times-Union via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

One of the reasons it was such as a surprise Jacksonville exhausted a first-round pick on a running back in April was the performance of James Robinson as a rookie last season. The undrafted free agent from Illinois State recorded 1,070 rushing yards and seven touchdowns at a clip of 4.5 yards per rush. He also added 39 receptions for 344 yards.

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Robinson, 23, will remain Jacksonville’s starting running back. However, there’s not a lot behind him on the depth chart. Veteran Carlos Hyde has looked like a shell of his former self this summer. Neither Dare Ogunbowale nor Devine Ozigbo have stepped up. Look for Jacksonville to scour the veteran market, either via free agency or the trade block, ahead of Week 1.

Trevor Lawrence loses his safety valve in Travis Etienne

jacksonville jaguars: travis etienne, trevor lawrence
Former Clemson teammates Travis Etienne and Trevor Lawrence and now Jacksonville Jaguars teammates with their new jerseys during an introductory press conference Friday, April 30, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP) Draft Jaguars Football 1

Once Lawrence took over for Kelly Bryant as Clemson’s starting quarterback early in his freshman season back in 2018, it became clear that he and Etienne would form an elite backfield. As the quarterback was breaking school records, Etienne was doing his thing for the Tigers. That included the back tallying a combined 85 receptions in his final two seasons with Lawrence tossing him the rock.

The face of the franchise in Duval, Lawrence now loses this safety valve as he attempts to make that difficult transition to the NFL. This is no small thing given the questions Jacksonville now boasts at the skill positions.

Urban Meyer now under the microscope

jacksonville jaguars head coach urban meyer
Aug 14, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer looks at the clock in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL world blasted this rookie head coach for Jacksonville’s miserable performance in Monday’s exhibition loss to New Orleans. While some of that could be overreaction, a lot of it is justified. We have absolutely no idea if Meyer will succeed in making the transition from legendary college head coach to the pros.

What we do know is that he had as much of a role in the Jaguars’ player personnel decisions as general manager Trent Baalke this past offseason. The failed Tim Tebow experiment is a prime example of this. Now, the player Jacksonville reached for in Round 1 won’t make an impact in Meyers’ initial season in Duval. It’s another black eye for the head coach heading into Week 1.

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