Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Brian Robinson, Jaret Patterson, Jonathan Williams: the Washington Commanders’ running back room is stacked.
While Gibson was the primary back last season for Washington, as he rushed for over 1,000 yards, usage in the run game this year might look different given how much depth the Commanders have at the position.
Ron Rivera has previously said he’d like to utilize Gibson and Robinson as a ‘one-two punch’ in 2022. But what if the carries were divvied up on more of a committee basis?
“I would love it,” Gibson said with a smile during OTAs on Tuesday. “I feel like, why not go through us? We got so much talent in there, like you said.”
Though the Commanders used Gibson and McKissic as that patented one-two punch last season with the latter giving a real boost to the backfield passing game, Washington added to their running back room through the draft.
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Brian Robinson Jr. will line up behind Carson Wentz this season too, providing the size and power Gibson alluded to. Standing at 6-foot-1 but with a 225 lb frame, Robinson can supply the bruising, run-through-you element that Gibson and McKissic lack.
“We got another big back. We still got J.D., we got Jonathan Williams, we still got [Patterson], and a new one, also as well—Reggie [Bonofon],” Gibson said, referencing the 26-year-old free agent out of Louisville who the Commanders invited to OTAs.
“Those guys are real cool, and if [RB by committee is] what happens, we’re ready for it.”
Rivera is no stranger to employing a running-back-by-committee approach either. When discussing Robinson and Gibson two weeks ago, Rivera noted the Jonathan Stewart-DeAngelo Williams tandem he deployed during his tenure in Carolina.
During that stretch from 2011-14, they each rushed for over 2,000 yards and combined for 23 rushing touchdowns for the Panthers. Could it be replicated in D.C., but maybe even on a larger scale with three or four guys getting serious carries?
Maybe. Still, though, Gibson has not been told about what his workload will look like in 2022.
“Not yet. We’re still in OTAs, so we’ll see,” he said.
The good thing about Washington’s running back core this year is that each member has proven his worth to the team. Gibson is a workhorse, getting the lion’s share of carries and using his finesse to rack up yardage despite fumble issues. McKissic is excellent at pass blocking and receiving out of the backfield. Patterson is small but speedy and subbed in well during Gibson’s short absence due to coronarvirus this past season.
That leaves Robinson, who would need to prove his worth in the pro ranks this season. One thing that might help him transition, though, is the tutelage of his position mate, Gibson.
“If he asks me any questions, you know I got him,” Gibson said. “I don’t feel like it’s too hard for him, but if he’s got a little question here, I’m definitely helping.”
Four players who could get siginifcant carries in 2022 is a good problem to have for the Commanders. What’s even more encouraging is that, when put together, they cover all facets needed in a run game. OTAs just started, though, so the remaining summer months should provide clarity on what the run game will look like this season.