Three of Washington's coaches have weighed in on Antonio Gibson's situation this week. Head Coach Ron Rivera, OC Scott Turner, and ST Coach Nate Kaczor addressed Gibson's situation from different angles.
"Antonio's got to run harder. When he starts to shuffle and go sideways, that's when he struggles. When he goes hard, we saw that when he came back in the second half. He put his shoulder down and ran hard. That is what he is capable of doing. That is when he is at his best, so we talked about that. I'm very pleased with how he came back in the second half and ran the ball." - Rivera on Gibson's fumbling issues directly following the loss to the Carolina Panthers.
"That's one of the first things that we talk about when we get together as an offense when training camp started is protect the football. We can't waste possessions, and obviously, if you fumble the ball, that's a waste of a possession. That's a ball carrier's first job, to protect the ball. We can't have that. He knows that. I'm not saying anything to you guys that haven't already been said to Antonio. I read his comments. I know he said the same thing. It has to be fixed." - Turner on Gibson's fumbling issues following Tuesday's practice.
While we all have beaten the Gibson conversation horse to death, it is essential to understand the direction the team is headed with the third-year running back. Gibson did not take a single special teams snap over his first two seasons. Furthermore, while Rivera stated this week that Gibson was involved on special teams during practices at some point last season, there were no reports of that.
Special team coach Nate Kaczor's comments were noteworthy following Thursday's presser.
"A lot of times as a special teams coach, I might be dealing with a player who's dealing with some disappointment on a role change on offense or defense, not necessarily talking about AG, but sometimes when they walk in my office, they've been told by an offensive or defensive coach that maybe the other guy’s going to start. So I'm not dealing all the time with guys that are just all excited to be talking to me, and it's for our job to get them excited about embracing that role." - Kaczor on Gibson being a return man for Washington.
Kaczor claims that he is not explicitly talking about Gibson, and he may not be. However, could Kaczor have inadvertently alluded to a conversation he may have had with Gibson earlier in the week?
It could be that Gibson was already told by Turner or Rivera that "the other guy's [Brian Robinson] going to start." If this is true, Robinson might solidify himself as the new starting running back for Washington well before most people had anticipated.
Listen to the latest Hogs Haven Podcast, where I go through more coaches speak, and preview the Commanders' week two matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
What's your take on the running back position altogether? Let us know in the comments.