Big plans are being formed by the coaching staff to maximize running back Antonio Gibson's production during the upcoming 2023 campaign.
All the running back hype has centered on Brian Robinson Jr. after a highly encouraging rookie campaign in difficult circumstances. But the Washington Commanders are also looking for ways to get Antonio Gibson more involved in 2023.
A 1,000-yard rusher in his own right, Gibson's production tailed off last season thanks to Robinson's emergence. His 149 carries were the lowest of his professional career by a considerable margin, which is a trend the Memphis product is hoping doesn't continue entering a contract year.
Paying running backs is not the done thing these days. One doesn't have to look far around the league to see how reluctant franchises are to commit substantial financial resources to the position, which is down to their short shelf-life and constant punishment.
Commanders plan to maximize Antonio Gibson's skills in 2023
Gibson has far too much talent to be cast aside into the football wilderness. Thankfully for the player and the Commanders, Eric Bieniemy's arrival makes creativity the keyword to unlocking his true potential.
This was something recently discussed by head coach Ron Rivera, who stated via the team's website that Bieniemy's craftiness to avoid mismatches is something that could give Gibson more opportunities - especially in the passing game if Sam Howell lives up to his end of the bargain.
"That's one of the things that he's looking for is guys that are gonna create those kinds of matchups and are gonna be matchup nightmares for the opponent. He [Gibson] is a guy that we mostly want to continue to work with and Eric wants to make sure this guy gets as many opportunities right now to show us what he's capable of, because I think that'll be a big part of the game planning."- Ron Rivera via Commanders.com
Relying on one running back to carry the load is a dying trend around the league. Having a potent one-two punch such as Robinson and Gibson would be a major asset for Bieniemy and the Commanders, with the presence of sixth-rounder Chris Rodriguez Jr. something else that could assist depending on how his transition goes.
Everyone has bought into Bieniemy's approach. He's raising the standard and completely changing the culture, which Rivera added is allowing Gibson and others to flourish in pursuit of making improvements.
"He really has come out and has really taken to what Coach Bieniemy is trying to get across to these guys on how to practice, how to prepare yourself, and what's expected. That's the other thing that's been really good and just watching him has been a treat this year because you see that growth and again, to me it's all trending in the right direction."- Ron Rivera via Commanders.com
Obviously, this could hinge on Howell and whether Washington's revamped offensive line provides the stability needed. Bieniemy will put his players in the best positions, but he cannot do anything about their execution between the lines on what looks to be a difficult-looking schedule in 2023.
Gibson has all the motivation he needs to surpass the 899 all-purpose yards and five combined touchdowns accumulated last season. Something that could make the former third-round selection a pretty wealthy man when the time comes to begin contract negotiations.