I, as your eternal optimist, will continue to fight the good fight when it comes to our Washington Football Team...man, that felt weird not typing the “R-word”.
Sometimes I can be a realist without being Debbie Downer. Sometimes I can be sensible without being Chris Hess. Other times I just like the taste of the Kool-Aid!
In the case of Washington's running back group, it is certainly the latter.
The news of second year running back Bryce Love being cleared for action this past week put a large smile on my face. I was a massive Bryce Love fan during his time at Stanford, and often made comparisons of him to a much stronger Jamaal Charles.
Let’s not forget, in 2017, Love may have been the best overall player in college football. He rushed for 2,118 yards, an absurd 8.1 yards per carry average, and scored 19 touchdowns during his junior season. Most running backs would have bolted for the NFL following that type of performance, but Love returned for his senior season, only to be hampered by nagging injuries throughout it. Finally, during his last game as a collegiate athlete, he tore his ACL.
Due to the timing and uncertainty surrounding his injury, he dropped to the fourth round of the 2019 NFL draft. When Washington selected him, they understood that a redshirt year would most likely be in the cards - and they were correct.
Now that Love has been cleared, he certainly adds a different and intriguing dimension to an already crowded and talented backfield. His sub-4.4 speed, burst and vision will make it hard to keep him off the field.
The Washington Football Team’s “Bell-Cow” has yet to be determined, but Father Time may have a leg up on the youngsters at this point - if for nothing more than his health. Despite turning 35 this Spring, Adrian Peterson is still in phenomenal shape, and can carry a heavy workload if needed. He can also serve as a mentor to the younger backs in the locker room, and show them how to be a professional on and off the field.
After Peterson, the waters get a bit cloudy, but they certainly have the ability to clear up very quickly.
Derrius Guice has been declared healthy by the team, and is poised for a breakout year if he can maintain that health. Although he’s played in just 5 games during his first two NFL seasons, the battering ram has averaged 5.8 yards per carry, and had three scores(two rushing and one receiving).
The wild card in this positional group in newcomer Antonio Gibson. The 6’0” 228 pound blazer out of Memphis is a do-it-all type of weapon that new offensive coordinator Scott Turner can use similar to what he did with Christian McCaffrey in Carolina. Gibson operated primarily out of the slot during his final season with the Tigers, but is expected to be used mainly as a running back in Washington. However, expect to see him used often out of the backfield to create mismatches in Turner’s offense.
Gibson is a big man! Gonna be a fun player to watch this season. pic.twitter.com/JUBOOG2zRZ— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) July 30, 2020
With Gibson’s unique skillset, and how guys like McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara have been successful in that role, don’t be surprised if he leads all running backs in total touches in 2020.
It’s likely that Washington keeps four running backs on the roster, and stashes one more young, developmental type on the practice squad, so that could leave veterans JD McKissic(who many fans love) and Peyton Barber on the outside looking in as training camp begins. There is also a chance with Gibson’s “weapon” designation, that one of the two vets can play their way onto the team as one of the true running backs - especially seeing how limited the current depth is at wide receiver.
Regardless of who gets the start to open the season, the Washington Football Team has a very talented, intriguing running back room that could be poised for big things both now and in the future.
Which running back will get the most touches as a ball carrier in 2020?
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