Antonio Gibson's first game as a Washington Commander did not go as he intended when they took on the Carolina Panthers this past Saturday. The third-year running back initially played with the starters but was ultimately benched the drive immediately following fumbling, so he spent one drive playing with the second string unit. Gibson finished his day with four carries for two yards and one costly fumble that led to a Panthers touchdown.
It was not the best performance, and head coach Ron Rivera is aware of that, too. "Antonio's got to run harder," Rivera said post-game. "When he starts to shuffle and go sideways, that's when he struggles."
I'm not sure what made Antonio Gibson bubble this outside rather than pressing and cutting back to a likely house call, but I'd bet the Commanders coaching staff had a lot to say about this in meetings.— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) August 15, 2022
Brian Robinson Jr., on the other hand... pic.twitter.com/cZndk0elea
The fumble was not the only issue that Gibson had Saturday; he struggled on one rep in pass protection and missed a cutback lane on the first carry he had after fumbling. Furthermore, Gibson's missed cutback was semblances of some of the issues people came across when evaluating his 2021 season, too.
How many yards do you think this run should’ve actually went for pic.twitter.com/wiXy5XCQbn— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) July 5, 2022
Rivera did not want to directly address the fumble after the game Saturday, which may indicate that he does not want the story to grow any more legs than it currently has. However, Kansas City is an opportunity for offensive coordinator Scott Turner and Gibson moving forward.
On the most recent Hogs Haven Podcast, former NFL receiver Anthony Armstrong spoke with me about Gibson's situation and how his coordinator could help him avoid exposing him to fumbling the football.
"I think personally if you go with him [Brian Robinson] being a lead dog and have AG [Antonio Gibson] be this scatback. Almost like what J.D. McKissic is, but let AG do some more things to use his athleticism to get out on the edge where he doesn't have to go up against so many big [interior] players. You could see the fumbles not be much of an issue if he's going up against safeties and corners one-on-one out in space rather than trying to go inside the tackles. So that is some creativity that I am looking to see from Scott Turner in this second preseason game, you have a week's worth of tape on Kansas City, and you're going to be able to scheme up some plays based on what you see." - Anthony Armstrong on mitigating Antonio Gibson's ball security issues from an OC standpoint.
As the saying goes, ball security is job security. If Gibson's issues continue into the season, Rivera cannot avoid the conversation for much longer.
Remember to subscribe to, rate, and review the Hogs Haven Podcast below. Below is the entire conversation with Armstrong; we dive deeper into the Gibson issues from a mental standpoint and many other Commander-related topics.