Jaguars' Dare Ogunbowale made key early plays in replacing James Robinson at running back
The Jaguars' first game without James Robinson at tailback started well enough.
But the further the Jags fell behind the Chicago Bears on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field, the further they got from being able to control the game with the run behind second-team back Dare Ogunbowale -- a familiar problem for Robinson, who has gained 1,070 yards and scored seven touchdowns this season before missing his first game because of an ankle injury he suffered last week at Baltimore.
The Jags kept the game close and trailed 13-10 at halftime. But the Bears scored 21 third-quarter points, forcing the Jags to abandon the run, and went on to win 41-17.
Ogunbowale, in his third pro season out of Wisconsin, got the start in Robinson's place and gained 71 yards on 14 carries, for a respectable 5.1 per-carry average. He also caught three passes, but they didn't get much, a total of 7 yards.
"I thought he did a nice job, he really did," Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. "He was running hard."
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Ogunbowale had four carries for 24 yards, and three pass receptions for 25 yards entering the game, with Robinson carrying the load all season. The silver lining is that the extended duty against the Bears showed that Ogunbowale, nearly identical in size to Robinson (5 feet 10, 205 pounds), packs just as much punch and might even have a bit more open-field speed.
He gained a modest eight yards on his first three carries but then burst through for a 25-yard gain, Ogunbowale punctuated that with a 10-yard ramble, leading to a 25-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas to open the scoring.
Ogunbowale had three carries for 13 yards on the drive that ended in Mike Glennon's 20-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark, then had another gain of 11 yards in the second quarter.
But after gaining 64 yards by halftime, Ogunbowale had only 7 yards on six carries for the rest of the game as Glennon had to play catch-up ball.
"I think it would have been nice to see the game close, then [Ogunbowale] get 20, 25 carries and see how he does there," Marrone said. "But he did a nice job going in there."
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Ogunbowale at least showed he might be able to provide depth at running back next season behind Robinson, if the Jaguars don't choose to draft another running back. Ryquell Armstead missed the entire season on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Chris Thompson went out for the year with an injury in week nine and Devine Ozigbo had injury issues at the front end of the season.