Travis Etienne, the first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2021 NFL Draft, arrived with high expectations. The team believed he had the potential to become a true all-purpose back - a between-the-tackles runner, pass catcher, and home run hitter.
However, Etienne's debut season, much like his fellow first-round pick Trevor Lawrence, was marred by setbacks. While Lawrence faced the challenges of the rookie learning curve at quarterback, compounded by the disastrous coaching regime of Urban Meyer, Etienne suffered a Lisfranc injury in the preseason, forcing him to miss the entire season.
But in 2022, Etienne showcased his undeniable talent and justified the Jaguars' faith in him. He carried the ball 220 times, accumulating an impressive 1125 yards at an average of 5.1 yards per carry. Additionally, he contributed 316 receiving yards on 35 catches.
These numbers are trending towards a historic milestone that no Jaguars running back has ever achieved: a season with 1200 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards.
Almost achieving this feat was Fred Taylor, who came close during his rookie season in 1998. He recorded 1223 rushing yards with 14 rushing touchdowns, along with 421 receiving yards on 44 catches. Taylor flirted with the mark again in 2002, accumulating 1314 rushing yards and 408 receiving yards on 49 catches.
In 2008, Maurice Jones-Drew, famously referred to as a "rolling ball of butcher knives" by former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris, surpassed the 500-yard receiving mark with 565 yards on 63 catches. However, due to sharing carries with Taylor, Jones-Drew only managed 824 rushing yards that year. Although he surpassed 1300 rushing yards in each of the next three seasons after Taylor's departure, he never exceeded 374 receiving yards during that span.
Leonard Fournette came remarkably close to joining the 1200/500 club in 2019. He tallied 1152 rushing yards on 265 attempts (4.3 yards per carry) and added 522 receiving yards on an astounding 76 catches.
Etienne possesses elite-level receiving skills, making him a valuable asset in the passing game. Barring any injuries, he is expected to be the team's primary running back this upcoming fall.
However, there is a question of whether Etienne can reach this historic milestone due to the abundance of talented pass catchers on the team. With the likes of Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram, and even JaMycal Hasty, there are plenty of mouths to feed in the passing game. It may ultimately come down to a simple numbers game if Etienne falls short of the mark.
Nevertheless, Etienne made significant progress towards this achievement last year, accumulating 1441 yards from scrimmage. If he can utilize his speed and elusiveness to break free for substantial gains in the passing game, he could become the sole member of a highly prestigious club this fall.