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Antonio Gibson

Is It Officially Time To Worry About Antonio Gibson?

  • Justin Melo
  • August 16, 2022
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Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson suffered through a nightmarish performance in Saturday’s preseason defeat to the Carolina Panthers. Gibson carried the ball on four occasions, gaining just two yards. Gibson also recorded one reception for two yards and lost a fumble during the first quarter.

Gibson’s fumble occurred on his second carry of the afternoon and set the Panthers up deep inside of Washington territory. Three plays later, Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold tossed a touchdown to put the visitors up 10-0. Gibson was benched on the ensuing drive and returned to the game with the second-string offense. It’s officially time to begin worrying about Gibson’s outlook in Washington.

The Commanders are running out of patience with Gibson. Gibson was seen playing the slot position for the punting unit during Tuesday’s practice, according to multiple reports. Gibson later received work with Washington’s third-team offense. They represent new developments that indicate Gibson is trending in the wrong direction. Commanders head coach Ron Rivera is sending a clear message to his third-year ball-carrier.

“Antonio has to run harder,” Rivera said during his post-game press conference following yet another Gibson fumble. “When he starts to shuffle and go sideways, that’s when he struggles.”

Fumbling isn’t a new occurrence for Gibson. Gibson led the league in fumbles amongst non-quarterbacks last season (six total fumbles, losing four). For those keeping score at home, that’s seven fumbles in 30 career appearances for Gibson. His inability to take care of the football is landing him in Washington’s doghouse.

To make matters worse for Gibson, rookie third-round pick Brian Robinson Jr. entered the game against the Panthers and added some much-needed punch to Washington’s rushing attack. The No. 98 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Robinson ran for 26 yards and a touchdown on six carries (4.3 yards per carry). Robinson helped spearhead Washington’s impressive 14-play, 82-yard scoring drive, which ended with his lone score of the contest. Robinson added 15 yards via two receptions. Robinson ran with the same decisiveness and juice that made him such an intriguing prospect coming out of Alabama (First-Team All-SEC). Perhaps more importantly, he didn’t commit a turnover. Robinson continues to endear himself to Washington’s coaching staff while Gibson trends in the opposite direction.

The drafting of Robinson placed Gibson on notice. Selecting another running back with a top-100 pick suggested the Commanders brass isn’t fully sold on Gibson—and with good reason given his penchant for turnovers. Gibson’s inability to protect the football could ultimately limit his large workload throughout the upcoming campaign. That process has potentially already begun to take shape.

Furthermore, J.D. McKissic has a clear role as the Commanders’ third-down back of choice. McKissic remains one of the top change-of-pace talents in football and the Commanders will continue using him appropriately. McKissic’s presence already limits Gibson’s overall upside.

Gibson now finds himself looking over his shoulder with a second threat to worry about. A fate-deciding season looms especially large for Gibson. Sustained performances by Robinson could see the Tuscaloosa, Alabama native eat into Gibson’s usage, leaving the former Memphis man wondering where it all went wrong.

Written By

Justin Melo