Determining what Washington should do at running back
By Jonathan Eig
Our spin through the position groups of the Washington (Nickname-to-be Named-Later) Footballers today brings us to the running backs. Hmm. How to put this? I got it. The Washington Football Team running backs are fine.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the wide receivers. They are not so fine.
OK, look, the running backs are indeed fine, but there is always room for improvement. And there must always be contingency plans in place. Running back may be the least durable and most interchangeable position in today’s NFL, so let’s go a little deeper.
The Washington Football Team should be set with its top three running backs for 2022. Antonio Gibson is the clear starter. Jaret Patterson should be his backup. J.D McKissic should return from injury and resume his role as the primary pass-catching back.
Gibson and Patterson are under contract for 2022. McKissic is an unrestricted free agent who will attract some attention from other teams, but also should be re-signable.
Gibson is entering his third year, and should just be coming into his prime. A converted college wide receiver, he has made great strides in learning the new position, running for over 1,000 yards in his second year, while remaining a good pass catcher and improving his pass protection. Fumbling is a major concern – he put the ball on the ground six times in 2021 – but assuming he can solve that problem, he will be a strong RB1 for Washington for the next several years.
What should the Washington Football Team do at RB?
Apart from fumbling, the biggest concern regarding Gibson is durability. He has been nicked up some during his first two seasons, but played through most of his injuries without losing much effectiveness. However, the shelf-life for any big, upright runner like Gibson is limited. He is just 23, with a lot of tread still on the tire, but it is in everyone’s interest to preserve him, even at this early date. Which leads us to …
Jaret Patterson – local kid, UDFA – is a great story. After a record-setting career at the University of Buffalo, he earned his way onto the team as a rookie and performed well enough to earn a longer look in 2022. Patterson is listed at just 5’8”, 195, but is an effective runner with good burst and enough power to break arm tackles. He can catch the ball, which is essential in Scott Turner’s offense. Like Gibson, he needs to continue to improve his pass protection, but he shows every sign of doing that.
It would be very helpful for Antonio Gibson if another back can shoulder a bigger load in 2022. Patterson should be in line to take over every third or fourth series to give Gibson some regular rest. At his size, it is not likely that Patterson could ever be a long-term lead back were Gibson to go down, but he should be quite good in a relief role. And assuming he is, it will also be very good news for for…