Washington Commanders: Antonio Gibson can have role despite fumbles

Washington Commanders, Antonio Gibson (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Washington Commanders, Antonio Gibson (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Immediately after being selected in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Antonio Gibson had a lot of hype from Washington Commanders fans. He was set to transition full-time to running back, and a large role was clearly in his future.

Gibson’s rookie season only created more hype. He looked fantastic in a limited-large role. And it looked like he would be the full-time back going forward. 2021 did see him set new career-highs in rushing yards (1,037), receptions (42), receiving yards (294), and receiving touchdowns (3). However, he also had a miserable ball control problem.

Gibson had six fumbles, losing four of them. This became a serious issue as it was halting drives. That type of issue could lose a running back their job.

And this offseason, Washington re-signed J.D. McKissic and drafted Brian Robinson Jr. in the third round. So while they were still showing a lot of confidence in Gibson when he was brought up, it feels like they had made some insurance plans.

All of the doubt could be erased though. Gibson just needs to look strong in the preseason, right? Then everyone will be back on the hype train. Well Gibson fumbled on the second drive of the game, his second carry.

So what if this continues to be a problem? Gibson has so much potential but you can’t have a lead back that you don’t trust to hold on to the football. Robinson could take over as the main back. And if that happens where do the Commanders go with Gibson? They already have J.D. McKissic as their receiving back, and he’s one of the very best in the NFL at that.

The good news is, Antonio Gibson does have a lot of talent. So there is still a role for him even if he can’t be 100% trusted. He could still have a big role in fact.

Robinson has potential, but we’ve already seen how good Gibson can be. And let’s just remind everyone quickly that Tiki Barber was the New York Giants RB for a long time, and considered a top talent in the league. And he had a four-year run that consisted of nine fumbles, eight fumbles, nine fumbles, and nine fumbles.

What makes Gibson so special is that he seems to be able to do everything. He has a lot of the great “shiftiness” that allows him to slide through holes and juke/evade defenders. Meanwhile, there’s a surprising amount of power that allows him to fight for extra yards. And his skills in the receiving game are top-tier, even though McKissic overshadows him there.

Washington isn’t just going to stop using him. Even if he falls out of favor, we would still see Gibson getting double-digit touches each game between carries and receptions. And that could lead to him working himself back into a big role.

Brian Robinson has definitely intrigued a lot of fans. And a bruising running back can always be fun. We’ve already seen how special Antonio Gibson can be though, it’s just that ball control issue holding him back at the moment. The Washington Commanders offense is different when he’s at the top of his game though, so he’ll be utilized even if the fumbles don’t go away.