JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There’s more than one second-year player on the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster who is on pace for one of the greatest seasons in franchise history.
The second-round draft pick from Penn State has 50 catches for 871 yards and seven touchdowns, which puts him on pace to set the team’s single-season record for receiving touchdowns and have the second-most receiving yards and second-best per-catch average. Robinson is having the type of season that rivals anything that Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, easily the two best receivers in Jaguars history, put together in their careers.
"He has been unbelievable," Bortles said.
Robinson is on pace to catch 80 passes for 1,394 yards and 11 touchdowns. That would be second only to Smith’s 1,636 yards in 1999 and would surpass the 10 touchdown catches by Reggie Williams (2007) and Marcedes Lewis (2010). After catching just one pass for 27 yards in the season opener, Robinson has caught at least four passes in each game since.
Some of them have been acrobatic catches, in which he out-jumped and out-fought a defensive back for the ball. At 6-foot-3 with a 40-inch vertical leap, Robinson wins most of the battles. He did that several times against New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, and the veteran was so impressed with Robinson that they traded jerseys after the game -- something Revis rarely does.
"We talk about it all the time in the quarterback room -- no matter what you do, don’t overthrow him," Bortles said. "Just give him a chance because he is going to go up and make a play. That’s really all you do when you throw the ball to him.
"You don’t have to throw a perfect ball. Just don’t overthrow him and let him go up and catch it. He’s going to make a play."
Robinson’s success is due to more than his physical attributes, though. He said he’s become more of a technician in terms of route running and fundamentals.
"I’ve tried to develop myself into a good route runner and not really just try to always rely on my athletic ability to be able to make plays," Robinson said. "When you look at some of the defensive backs in the NFL, they’re just as athletic. I think the main thing for me is always focusing on and trying to get separation because I feel if I do that I’ll be able to also use my athleticism along with being able to get open."
Robinson was already pretty successful as a rookie in 2014, when he was on pace to break Justin Blackmon’s franchise rookie record for receptions (64) before a foot injury sidelined him for the final six games. He averaged 11.4 yards per catch, but that number has jumped to 17.4 this season in Greg Olson’s offense. There are more downfield passes and Bortles likes to take chances, too, so there are more big plays.
Bortles said the biggest key to Robinson’s jump in his second season isn’t his size.
"Being 6-3 and able to jump helps a lot, but I think it’s confidence," Bortles said. "I think it’s continuing to grow. I think he’s gotten more confident by the day, by the practice, by the catch. And I think it’ll only continue to grow because he has the ability and physical tools to do whatever he wants to do.
"He’s got an unbelievable head on his shoulders. Very level-headed and humble for the success he’s had. He only wants to continue that success and continue to help this team be successful."