Commanders deep dive: Does Eric Bieniemy need a new type of running back?

Could the Commanders use more explosiveness at running back?

Brian Robinson Jr.
Brian Robinson Jr. / Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports
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While the Washington Commanders have a decent trio of running backs, could Eric Bieniemy use more explosiveness within the room this season?

The Washington Commanders had one solitary game in 2022 in which a running back gained more than 100 yards. That was Week 12 in a win over the Atlanta Falcons when Brian Robinson Jr. gained 105.

There could be multiple reasons for that particular statistic. It may be a signal of subpar runners or weak offensive line play. It may be a poor scheme. It is often associated with a team that falls behind and therefore chooses to abandon the running game prematurely.

In the Commanders' case, I think the primary culprit was an anemic passing attack led by a game quarterback with a below-average arm. This allowed opposing defenses to crowd the line without fear of Washington making them pay through the air.

But I think subpar offensive line play and the lack of creative schemes were also partly to blame. As for the other possible culprit – a lack of quality running backs – that requires a more nuanced analysis.

The Commanders did not have poor runners in 2022, nor is there a lack of talent this season. The two primary runners – Robinson and Antonio Gibson – are back in 2023. Last year’s third runner – J.D. McKissic, or, after his injury, Jonathan Williams – has been replaced by rookie Chris Rodriguez Jr.

These are certainly not bad runners. But they are all limited in one very important aspect. And that seems to be by design.