Expanding Gibson's Role in the Receiving Game | Washington Commanders
By Adam Aniba
Washington surprised many fans by selecting Alabama RB Brian Robinson Jr. with the #98 overall selection in the 3rd round. After re-signing J.D. McKissic to a 2-year deal, a late round running back seemed like more in the realm of possibility.
Trading back in the 1st round, allowed Ron Rivera to recoup a 3rd round, after trading away this year's pick for Carson Wentz. Some believed Robinson Jr. was a reach, especially with the talent available on the board.
Gibson's fumbling issues in '21, certainly factored into the decision to draft another running back with their third pick. Rivera's belief in a dual-back attack was emphasized, when he mentioned his success in Carolina with DeAngelo WIlliams and Jonathan Stewart. Unlike WIlliams and Steward, AG and Robinson were not 1st round selections.
Robinson's ability to thrive in short yardage and goal situations, make him a perfect compliment to Gibson and McKissic's skill sets. In saying that, the Alabama RB's field presence should lead to more dual back sets, which OC Scott Turner has rolled out in the past.
Mismatch at Receiver
During Gibson's time at the University of Memphis, he morphed into a dynamic WR/RB hybrid weapon for the Tigers. Before transfering from East Central Community College to Memphis, Gibson was used sparingly in the run game (249 rushing yards in two seasons at ECCC). In fact, most of his rushing yards came on end-arounds/sweeps and he sporadically lined up in the backfield.
AG was a featured weapon in the Tigers innovative scheme, in which their offensive skill players at WR and RB were asked to run a variety of route concepts and line up all over the filed. In Gibson's case, he was used more in the run game than he ever was on the JUCO level. His blazing speed and ability to create big time plays, led to him ranking 8th in the country during the '19 season with a 20.83 per reception average (2nd highest in school history).
Gibson finished his final season at Memphis with 369 yards rushing, which was more than his previous 3 seasons combined. It was his 735 yards receiving for 8 TDs that gained him national attention though.
Gibson was effective when running wheel/choice routes (mostly out of slot), but his ability to to be a deep threat on go-routes was undeniable. AG's 4.39 speed and ability to create YAC, led to frequent mismatches facing linebackers and safeties, who were often a step behind.
During his brief time in Washington, Gibson has amassed 78 receptions for 541 yards (30 games). His 6.9 per reception average was largely based on his targets coming within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. On the flip side, J.D. McKissic who is also a former college receiver, was asked to be more involved in the receiving game leading to 123 receptions for 986 receiving yards (27 games).
McKissic will be a valuable weapon in the receiving game for Carson Wentz, but Gibson is far from a finished product as an overall playmaker. Getting Gibson more involved in the receiving game, with less rushing attempts, benefits Turner's offense and Gibson's longevity.
Putting AG in more 1-on-1 situations, gives him an opportunity to utilize his speed and power, to create more splash plays for a passing game that has fallen short year after year. It also would cut down on potential fumbling opportunities, while getting him out in space in high percentage situations.
This could be the year Washington's passing games explodes and Gibson should have a large role in their success.