Washington’s backfield is still in good shape with the necessary release of Derrius Guice. Adrian Peterson, Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic give the Redskins plenty of experience, while Bryce Love and Antonio Gibson add play-making ability and potential. Peterson will likely lead the Washington backfield in carries this year and Gibson in targets, but Love is the back who can help define this team’s future.
Love started his college career playing behind Christian McCaffrey his first two years at Stanford, so opportunities were limited. He still managed over 1,000 yards on 130+ carries, averaging over 7 yards per attempt. He broke onto the scene as a Junior with 2,100 yards and 19 touchdowns. He went back to school his Senior year and unfortunately injuries caught up to him.
His injury plagued Senior year, including a ACL tear late in the season, allowed the Redskins to snag him in the 4th round of the draft. Even with the down Senior season, he was likely a top 50 pick before the ACL tear, and had he produced like he had his Junior year he probably would have been a first rounder. Complications from the surgery slowed his recovery for a year, but Love is now healthy and showcasing the talent that plagued Pac-12 defenses.
Love is a dynamic runner with explosiveness and excellent vision. He’s on the smaller size and won’t necessarily get the tough yards or goal to go situations. Early reports suggest that his play-making ability has returned in camp this year. If he is back to the type of player he was in college, Washington got a steal with that 4th round pick. Love very much though can be the future feature back on the team.
While Love is the future, the team should be wise to bring him along slowly this season. He’s coming off a serious injury that took far longer than normal to heal. There is no reason to rush him back into a full football workload. Peterson gives Washington a very capable back to start the season and handle a good share of the carries. Gibson (or McKissic) can provide support in the passing game. The team can ease Love into both roles and monitor his touches throughout the season. Later in the year Love can hopefully take over the feature role in the offense with, Peterson still contributing and Gibson becoming more of an all-around weapon.
This year fans should see plenty of flashes, but it is 2021 that Love could really shine as he joins Terry McLaurin and Dwayne Haskins to form the Redskins primary triple threat.