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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Will the Commanders change their RB strategy?

What I will be watching in the years to come – assuming Eric Bieniemy remains with the Washington Commanders – is whether that strategy changes. The backs that he had a hand in acquiring and developing with the Kansas City Chiefs all had better burst numbers than anyone the play-caller currently has at his disposal.

Last year’s sensation Isaiah Pacheco was on par with the best of Washington’s runners in recent years. Although his raw speed and upper body strength are significantly better.

Jerrick McKinnon has some of the best burst numbers of any back over the past decade. His broad jump is actually better than Derrick Henry’s, though he had to move a lot more body mass. And even a relative plodder like Clyde Edwards-Helaire has excellent burst numbers – much better than anyone currently on the Commanders' roster.

Bieniemy appears to recognize the value of this type of runner. It will be interesting to see if Washington looks to acquire this type should he remain in control of the offense.

Again, let me repeat that the game isn’t played on paper with running backs jumping as high or as far as they can. There is a lot more that goes into being an effective runner than burst. Just look at Sam Howell.

Watch the cutback on his touchdown run against the Arizona Cardinals. Howell isn’t abnormally fast or powerful, but he has vision and understands how to set up tacklers. That makes him a good runner.

But Howell - like Brian Robinson Jr., Chris Rodriguez Jr., and Antonio Gibson, is not likely to break off a 50-yard run at any given moment. And it might be nice if the Commanders found a running back down the road who actually could do that.