Jaguars Travis Etienne would ‘love’ to be used like Deebo Samuel

It took a little longer than usual, but I think we’ve found the NFL’s latest copycat trend. From the Bears and Velus Jones Jr. to the Titans and Treylon Burks, it seems teams around the league now want their very own Deebo Samuel. As in, an elite First-Team All-Pro receiver / running back.

While squads gather up to create more miracle positionless pieces, the Jaguars’ Travis Etienne is one of the first players to take the initiative on this front.

The second-year running back says he’d ‘love’ the Jaguars to utilize him like Samuel in 2022. More importantly, after suffering a Lisfranc injury and missing his entire rookie season, he thinks it’s the best way to prove his worth to Jacksonville (+650 to win the AFC South at Tipico) and new head coach Doug Pederson.

“If I’m in those positions throughout the game and we get good matchups, we’ll be able to exploit them,” Etienne said. So it’s just me being able to do more and being valuable. ”

“Football is all about matchups, so I mean, if I could be like Deebo Samuel, I would love that. Honestly, the game is a game of productivity. If you can produce, the team is always going to have a need for you. It’s just trying to be the best player I can be so I can be on the field at all times. ”

Travis, buddy, I get it. You’re young, haven’t played in a year, and are eager to prove yourself. But are we conveniently ignoring that not even the Original Deebo Samuel ™ wants to be used like Deebo Samuel? It turns out touching the ball 150-plus times a year isn’t fun on the body!

And just because some squads are gearing up to get their own serendipitous football sensations doesn’t mean it’s sustainable. A player like Samuel is specifically so unique because most NFL teams don’t use their pass-catchers in such a multifaceted fashion. But that also means we don’t have a large sample size of how this plays out for athletes over a more extended period.

Oh, wait. We essentially do! Let’s rewind a bit.

Look at any of the NFL touches leaders from, say, 2011 to 2015. That would be:

  • 2011 – Maurice Jones-Drew (26-years-old at the time)
  • 2012 – Arian Foster (26)
  • 2013 – LeSean McCoy (25)
  • 2014 – DeMarco Murray (26)
  • 2015 – Adrian Peterson (30)

In 2022, none of these former franchise players are still in the league.

Jones-Drew was out of the NFL by 2014. Foster, by 2015. McCoy had a few more good years in him but became a shell of himself toward the end of the 2010s. Murray is otherwise known as the back of the Cowboys had before Ezekiel Elliott (who Dallas has also since relatively replaced as a high-touch player). And, of course, Adrian Peterson hasn’t been “AP” in a long time.

Admittedly, some of these backs were getting close to even 400 touches. That’s a bar someone like Samuel – who has more of a receiver build – will definitely never see. But for Etienne, a classic tailback, being used all over the field doesn’t spell out a long career.

It might make the current Jaguar appreciate his abilities now. A few years down the line, they’ll forget it ever even happened if Etienne can’t keep up the pace. Etienne would do well to see the forest for the trees and take a long-term perspective before it’s too late.

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