Following a tremendous performance on Thanksgiving, Antonio Gibson has exploded onto the scene as one of the most promising running backs in the NFC East.
While that might not be saying much given the minimal success the division has seen, Gibson has proven that he is going to be a vital asset to Washington’s offense in the future. Last Thursday, he became the first running back to have at least 3 touchdowns in a Thanksgiving game as a rookie, while also tying Randy Moss’s record for most touchdowns on Thanksgiving as a rookie.
After being selected with the 66th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, many were excited to see what Gibson could contribute to Washington’s running game.
After Washington released Adrian Peterson days before the 2020 season, it was clear Gibson’s carries would increase heavily. After slow production in the first 6 games of the season, where he only tallied 3 touchdowns and never rushed for more than 60 yards in a game, Gibson ran for 128 yards on 20 carries in Washington’s week 7 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Over the last four weeks of play, Gibson has run for 7 touchdowns and accumulated 274 yards for Washington’s offense. He’s also proven to be a reliable threat in the passing game.
The biggest upside to Gibson’s development is, well, just that. His game is still developing heavily- and not just because he is a rookie.
It’s important to keep in mind that Gibson played wide receiver and free safety in high school, and that he didn’t make the transition to a consistent running threat until the latter part of his time at Memphis.
He’s never had the opportunity to solely focus on the running back position as he’s always played other positions, and a huge reason why his numbers have improved in the 2nd half of the season is because of how well his vision and patience have improved.
He’s getting more consistent at reading his blocks and allowing holes to open up, many qualities that take halfbacks years to master.
Even Head Coach Ron Rivera said, “We see growth in many places, at first he was all over the place; now we’re seeing certain elements of his game coming into focus. The short runs, where he’s pressing the hole a little longer and opening up holes and popping through where it’s not opened up but he’s gaining two or three yards and getting what you can. Those are the things you look for. Or he hits an area and realizes he has to bounce and cut it back.”
Only time will determine his development as a running back and how successful he will be in Washington, but as of right now, Antonio Gibson is the running back you want to watch out for coming out of the NFC.
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