NFL.com’s ‘explosive runners’ list proves Antonio Gibson is still underrated
By Jerry Trotta
The 2022 season will be massive for several Washington Commanders. Some players (Montez Sweat) will be performing for a new contract, while others (Curtis Samuel) will need to prove their worth after a lackluster 2021. On his third team in as many seasons, Carson Wentz can be lumped into the latter category as well.
While Antonio Gibson doesn’t quite fit either bill, the former third-round pick faces serious pressure after he led all running backs with six fumbles last year. That number was more than all but 19 quarterbacks, which is a terrible look.
Gibson’s rookie contract runs until the end of the 2023 season, but the arrival of Alabama standout Brian Robinson Jr. in the third round of the draft suggests the coaching staff wants to lessen Gibson’s workload after he finished fourth in the league (first in the NFC) with a whopping 248 carries in 2021.
Outside of the fumbles, Gibson was a model of consistency on an offense that otherwise lacked playmaking. That speaks volumes when you consider he gutted through a stress fracture in his shin for a chunk of the schedule.
Despite battling through the injury, Gibson checked in at No. 9 on NFL.com’s “most explosive runners” list from last season.
Commanders running back Antonio Gibson is grossly underrated.
The rankings come courtesy of Next Gen Stats and used the following criteria to evaluate candidates: A minimum of 100 carries and at least 20 carries of 10-plus yards. The defining metric? The total number and percentage of runs in which ball-carriers reached or eclipsed 15 miles per hour.
Here’s what NFL.com writer Nick Shook said of Gibson.
"He [Gibson] posted a 44.6 percent success rate on runs (percentage of carries resulting in positive expected points added), second only to Jonathan Taylor among running backs on this list.He operated largely out of the shotgun, gaining the sixth-most rushing yards against light boxes (six or fewer defenders in the box) among running backs. Also, Gibson figured into Washington’s passing game prominently, with the second-most targets (16) on screen passes among RBs, catching 15 of them (second-most) and gaining the third-most yards (121)."
Per Next Gen Stats, Gibson compiled 24 rushes of 10 or more yards, which equated to a staggering 9.3% percentage. Even more impressive? Gibson logged 38 carries in which he topped 15 miles per hour, good for a 14.7% percentage.
We’re not sure if Gibson’s 73-yard catch and run against Buffalo qualifies as an explosive run, but a clip of the touchdown will give Commanders fans a glimpse of the type of highlight-reel player the 23-year-old can be at his best. On the play, Gibson was only expected to gain 18 yards (!) after the catch.
The only players with better tallies in the latter department were Elijah Mitchell (39), Lamar Jackson (49), Joe Mixon (51), Josh Allen (51), Nick Chubb 46), Dalvin Cook (54), Jonathan Taylor (48) and Jalen Hurts (78). In other words, only five running backs had more 15+mph carries than Gibson last season. Not bad for someone whose year was labeled a disappointment and played through a stress fracture.
If Gibson can rectify his fumbling woes, there’s seemingly nothing stopping him from ascending up the running back ranks again in 2022. Regardless, the fact he cracked this elusive list proves it’s time to put more respect on his name.