Gibson quells fumble issues as workhorse of Commanders’ win originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
In the first regular season game playing as the Washington Commanders, the home side at FedEx Field squeaked out a narrow and nerve-wracking 28-22 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars to start 1-0 in 2022.
Certain players jumped out and grabbed all the headlines for their jaw-dropping plays. Carson Wentz overcame two costly interceptions and threw four touchdowns to secure a win. Rookie wideout Jahan Dotson snagged two touchdowns in his first NFL regular season game. Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel hauled in a touchdown each.
One player, though, won’t appear on any of the highlight reels of the contest: running back Antonio Gibson. But even though the third-year RB didn’t find the end zone, he was the workhorse of Washington’s offense and a key part of its game plan during the win.
Gibson led all offensive players with 130 scrimmage yards -- 14 carries for 58 yards to go along with seven receptions for 72 yards. His 21 total touches almost doubled the next-most-used player on offense. Samuel finished with 12 touches for 72 total yards and a score in a big day of his own.
“Well, that’s one of the things that we talked about. You know, as a young man, if we can get him in space with the ball, he's electric,” head coach Ron Rivera said of Gibson postgame.
“He’s a dynamic football player and those are the things that you want. You want to get guys that can make plays in space. And we got a number of them, from the from the receiving corps to tight ends to the running backs. We've got playmakers. We just got to get them the ball in space.”
Most importantly, Gibson quelled what was easily the biggest issue he faced last season and during training camp this summer: fumbles. He led all non-quarterbacks with six fumbles in 2021, and fumbled on just his second carry of this preseason. But he didn’t lose his grasp on the ball on Sunday.
Ball security issues originating from last season was one reason why rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. was slated to take over RB1 duties from Gibson this year. Robinson’s lower-body injury stemming from a shooting during a robbery attempt in the District late last month will preclude him from football until at least Week 5. Gibson’s workload then will likely continue to be a crucial aspect of the Commanders’ offense.
Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner were not hesitant to give Gibson the lion’s share of rushing work in Robinson’s absence despite those previous fumbling problems. Rivera insisted last week that “I trust [Gibson] and we’re gonna give him the football. And so I have no issue with that.”
Rivera’s decision proved to be a good one in Week 1. If Gibson’s 130-yard day is any indication, he should be in for another large workload against a Detroit Lions defense next week that just allowed 216 yards on the ground to the Philadelphia Eagles in a 38-35 loss on Sunday.