Jaguars ‘eager’ about RB Tank Bigsby entering second season

Hopes are high in Jacksonville for running back Tank Bigsby as he enters his second season with the Jaguars, despite his bumpy, 50-carry debut campaign.

Jacksonville’s third-round NFL draft selection in 2023, Bigsby was acquired to provide the Jaguars’ running back room insurance and a rotational contributor behind starter, Travis Etienne Jr.

But aside from scoring two touchdowns in as many games to begin his NFL career, Bigsby fumbled twice and struggled with rushing efficiency over the 13 games he logged a carry.

He finished the year averaging 2.64 yards per attempt, surpassing four yards per carry in only one game in which he rushed at least three times, the season finale against Tennessee.

Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor are optimistic that Bigsby is in for improved production in 2024. He’ll receive more opportunities as the team attempts to reduce Etienne’s workload and keep him fresh, as Etienne averaged over 19 touches per game in 2023.

“Tank has done a great job going into year two. He’s a smart player … he’s a hard worker. [He] practices extremely fast, which I love,” Pederson described Bigsby. “Eager to get the pads on and see what he can do.”

As he aims to boost his efficiency, Bigsby’s offseason focus has been his ball-carrying vision within the Jaguars’ offensive scheme, per Pederson. According to Pro Football Focus, Bigsby averaged three-tenths of a yard before a defender made contact with him in 2023.

“For him now, it’s just understanding what he is seeing particularly in the run game, anticipating where the hole is going to be,” Pederson explained. “It’s like a movie screen and that screen is constantly moving and changing. For him, it’s being able to see that and react.”

Taylor expressed some regret for Bigsby’s relative lack of involvement in the offense, admitting there were instances he kept Etienne on the field when Bigsby likely could have accomplished a particular concept Taylor called.

Bigsby averaged just five offensive snaps per game over his 16 backfield appearances last year. His 80 offensive snaps on the season ranked No. 10 among the 15 running backs drafted in 2023 who received at least one handoff.

“I mean, we would’ve liked to say we would get more usage, opportunity for Tank as the season went. Looking back, there is a lot of things that we probably could have done better,” Taylor said. “You try to be as critical of everything that you can be, and — how do we utilize every single player available to us on game day?

“I think there are things Tank could have provided that we maybe didn’t give him opportunities to or maybe we’re quick to give Travis another rep on something that Tank could have done well for us. You live, learn, grow from it and adapt moving forward.”

Addressing Bigsby and second-round tight end Brenton Strange’s scarce contributions compared to 17-game starter, first-round offensive tackle Anton Harrison, Taylor mentioned the shallows of the learning curve both players experienced as rookies and how they’ve entered their second offseason prepared for their responsibilities.

Now, he said, Bigsby and Strange are better equipped for the speed of the NFL game, the pace of practice, their roles in the Jaguars’ offense and requirements within the scheme. Their growth has translated to the practice field, and Taylor is hopeful the trend will continue into the season.

Appearing to be on the right track, Taylor believes Bigsby is ready for an uptick in usage, and the Jaguars plan to accommodate it.

“Tank is in a great headspace in terms of where he goes in year two,” Taylor stated. “We are looking to get the most out of him as well.”

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire