Is Commanders running back Antonio Gibson now gaining the confidence of his coaches?
Gibson rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2021, but he also fumbled six times, leaving coaches with mixed emotions about his contributions.
When Brian Robinson Jr. returned in 2022, he took over the bulk of the carries, dropping Gibson’s rushing attempts from 258 (2021) to 149.
Anticipation and expectations were trending upward for Gibson with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy from Kansas City. Surely, Bieniemy would be getting the ball to Gibson early, often, and in the open field.
However, Gibson put the ball on the ground, stopping a deep drive against the Cardinals in the season opener. The former Memphis Tiger then fumbled again in consecutive losses to the Bills (37-3) and Eagles (34-31 OT).
Thus, Gibson has only run the ball 26 times through the team’s first nine games. Yet, Gibson has averaged 4.8 yards a carry on those 26 rushing attempts.
It is worth noticing that Gibson has been on the receiving end of five receptions in each of the last two games against the Eagles at FedEx and last week in New England.
Sick move by Antonio Gibson to spin out of this tackle pic.twitter.com/Rtttj1utag
— Ben Brown 🌻 (@BenBrownPL) November 5, 2023
Even more, against the Patriots, Gibson ran the ball six times for 34 yards (5.7 yards per carry), and his five receptions also produced another 42 yards (8.4 yards per reception). The 11 touches against the Patriots were a season-high for Gibson.
Consequently, Gibson produced 76 yards from scrimmage last week, which surpassed his previous season-high of 64 against the Bears. Gibson definitely has an open-field ability, and so one can’t help but wonder if this is Eric Bieniemy again warming up to Gibson, providing him more opportunities to contribute.
Sometimes, a short, quick passing game is alluded to as basically “an extended handoff.” Getting the ball quickly to Gibson in some situations will also mean the defense must move laterally as well as vertically up the field toward Sam Howell. If Howell can also connect with Gibson on some checkdowns, it also provides another open-field opportunity for Gibson to move the chains, keeping drives alive.
If Bieniemy and Howell can continue getting Gibson double-digit touches from scrimmage, might the Commanders offense rise to another plateau?