Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson joined the Jacksonville Jaguars at the same time but with very different expectations.
Robinson got drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft. He caught 557 yards in 10 games as a rookie, making an impact on a team that had only one 500 yard receiver the season before.
Hurns signed as an undrafted free agent. He was not expected to lead the team in receiving yards(667) and touchdowns(6) in his rookie year, but he did.
Both wide receivers excelled in their sophomore seasons. Robinson played in all 16 games and led the team in receptions(80), receiving yards(1,400) and touchdowns(14). Hurns had 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns, and signed a four-year, $40.05 million contract extension. The two Allens were going to be a dominant duo for years to come.
Quarterback Blake Bortles also had career-highs, passing for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns. The future of the young Jacksonville offense looked bright.
Two years later, and it’s the Jaguars elite defense and first-ranked run game, not the passing game, that are responsible for the team’s success. Robinson and Hurns have become afterthoughts due to injuries.
Hurns has missed 11 games over the past two seasons and failed to surpass 500 yards in either year. Robinson started every game in 2016 but tore his ACL in week one of the 2017-18 season. He hasn’t played a snap since.
The Jaguars allowed Robinson to walk at the start of free agency, and he joined the Chicago Bears. The Jaguars also released Hurns to save $7 million in salary cap space. On Friday, he signed with the Dallas Cowboys on a two-year contract worth up to $12 million.
Despite the two Allens being on different rosters for the first time in their careers, they will enter similar situations. Here’s the many parallels between Chicago and Dallas, and what the two former Jaguars must do to succeed:
Young Quarterbacks and Top Ranked Rushers
In 12 games, rookie Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw for 2,193 yards and 7 touchdowns, despite a slow start. Trubisky failed to attempt more than 30 passes in six of his first 12 games.
This was due to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, who overly relied on Bears running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. The Bears ranked seventh in rushing play percentage at 45.18 percent.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott regressed in his second season. Despite having 31 more pass attempts, Prescott threw for 343 less yards and nine more interceptions.
Like Howard in Chicago, Dallas also has a premier running back in Ezekiel Elliot. He’s one of the reasons the Cowboys ranked third in rushing play percentage at 47.76 percent, despite missing six games due to suspension.
Trubisky, Prescott, Howard, and Elliot are all under the age of 24. Robinson and Hurns will be serviceable veterans but are also young enough to grow with the young cores.
Weak Receiving Groups and Lack of Trust
The Bears receiving core was in desperate need of help and was willing to overlook Robinson’s recent knee injury. The last time a Chicago receiver surpassed 1,000 yards was in 2014(Alshon Jeffery). Signing Robinson was the best shot the Bears had of getting an elite play-maker to pair with Trubisky.
Dallas, on the other hand, was in need of some youth at the position. The 29-year old Dez Bryant struggled with drops last season and tight end Jason Witten would turn 36 before training camp. Hurns, 26, is a fast, tall option that Prescott could learn to trust.
The most important thing Robinson and Hurns must do is stay healthy if they want to return to their 2015 form. They’ll need to show they are reliable on the field to build chemistry with their new, young quarterbacks. Building trust is the only way for the Allens to get touches in these run-heavy offenses.