An analytics expert revealed a surprising X-factor that could prove influential to any hope the Washington Commanders have for playoff football in 2023.
If the Washington Commanders want to alleviate some pressure from Ron Rivera's shoulders with Josh Harris' ownership group watching intently in 2023, then it must be a collective effort. Everyone on the staff must be on the same page and players from top-to-bottom on their 53-man roster must perform to or above the level expected.
It's an ambitious goal, there is no getting away from that whatsoever. But one the Commanders can achieve by being prepared, committed, and ignorant of all the outside noise that is sure to follow once Harris and his team of investors take over from the disgraced Dan Snyder.
The talent is there to be extremely competitive, at the very least. Washington's situational football must improve and Sam Howell has to provide the consistency needed at the sport's most critical position, but an analytics expert highlighted one potential X-factor that has been largely overlooked by most.
Commanders RB tandem named as surprising X-factor in 2023
Andy Benoit from The 33rd Team picked out one X-factor for every NFL organization heading into the 2023 campaign. Instead of going with someone like Howell or maybe even Chase Young, the writer named Washington's gifted running back duo of Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson, instead.
"With an offensive line that is at best good but not great, the Commanders will be reliant on their ball carriers to generate the occasional big play on their own and, more regularly, turn 4-yard runs into 7-yard runs. It remains to be seen if second-year pro-Brian Robinson and fourth-year pro Antonio Gibson are up to that task. Robinson has more buildup speed than burst. He can get tough yards inside. The question: Can he create his own space? Or is he just a slightly more dynamic Najee Harris (i.e., stiff and easily replaceable)? Gibson, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound strong finisher, is stylistically similar to Robinson but with a little less power and a little more versatility, especially as a receiver. "- Andy Benoit, The 33rd Team
Robinson certainly showed enough promise to suggest he can become a productive lead back. The former Alabama star's turbulent offseason last time around was well documented, so it would be a shock if numbers didn't increase with a smoother preparation period and immediate involvement from Week 1 onwards.
The Commanders are also looking to get Gibson more involved under Eric Bieniemy's expansive scheme. Expect his ability in the passing game to be utilized heavily and the player should also have an extra source of motivation heading into a contract year.
Having a good running game makes everything better. It sets the tone on offense, controls the clock, and will also provide Sam Howell with dependability alongside him in the backfield during his first campaign as the team's No. 1 option under center.
Robinson and Gibson have the potential to be a dynamic tandem that compliments each other well. And if anyone can bring the best out of them, it's Bieniemy.
Looking at the Commanders' schedule, more than a few games are going to be decided by fine margins. While the passing game is king in the modern-day NFL, having Robinson and Gibson dictating proceedings - especially early on - has the scope to put Washington in strong positions.
And that'll make life easier for everybody.