FLORHAM PARK, NJ — New York Jets run back James Robinson, thought to be a key figure on the offense after arriving in a trade last month, was a healthy scratch last Sunday — and he’s upset.
“Obviously I didn’t come here not to play,” Robinson told ESPN on Wednesday. “Obviously they brought me here for a reason. I don’t expect anything unless I work for it, and I’ve worked really hard. Not playing makes me angry.”
Looking for more production, coach Robert Saleh replaced Robinson with rookie Zonovan Knight, who recorded 103 yards from scrimmage in his debut—a 31-10 victory over the Chicago Bears.
Robinson said he was informed last Wednesday by running backs coach Taylor Embree that he would be inactive against the Bears.
“Obviously I was angry about it,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re planning for me.”
On October 24, the Jets purchased Robinson from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a conditional pick in the 2023 sixth round—one day after starter Breece Hall lost to a season-ending knee injury. In three games, Robinson has rushed for just 75 yards on 25 carries. He scored a touchdown on one of his two receptions.
As part of the trade deal, the draft pick improves to a fifth rounder if Robinson’s 2022 rushing total reaches 600 yards. He is currently at 415 meters.
Robinson played his best game with the Jets in a Week 9 victory over the Buffalo Bills (13 carries for 48 yards and a receiving touchdown). The offense reached its nadir in the next game, a loss to the New England Patriots. He was held to 10 meters on seven bearers.
Saleh explained the change, saying there was “a lot of meat on the bone in the run game in recent weeks”. He said Robinson is still comfortable with their zone-based schedule and wanted to give Knight a chance in the rotation, adding that “no one has seen the last of” Robinson.
Robinson doesn’t believe he has any problems with the new system, which requires a one-cut runner who can accelerate quickly on the field.
“I mean picking up the runs, that’s easy,” said Robinson, a 1,070-yard rusher for Jacksonville in 2020. “The thing is getting used to the passing game, protections and I feel like I picked up that stuff pretty well good.
“You should probably ask them what their plan is for me. I would do the same, but of course I will continue to do my best. I can’t beg there. They can see what I do on the pitch.”
Robinson, who said he was unsure of his status this week, could be inactive again against the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium on Sunday. It may depend on Michael Carter, who missed practice on Wednesday with a sprained ankle.
Saleh said he hoped Carter will play. In that case, they could go with the same three as last week – Carter, Knight and Ty Johnson, who rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown against Chicago.
“With that whole receding room, it becomes a week-to-week thing,” Saleh said.