Many fantasy football players woke up this morning with their heads down. They have already given up their hopes of winning their match of Week 2. Why? Because Antonio Gibson let them down. Gibson, the Washington Football Team’s leading running back, saw just 13 carries and two catches in last night’s game against the New York Giants.
Many analysts projected that Gibson will have a monster game against the Giants on Thursday night. The Giants weren’t just cute mediocre team against race in 2020, allowed Melvin Gordon to go for 101 yards on just 11 carries in Week 1. This was matchup heaven. Washington would probably get up early, and that would mean more hasty opportunities. On paper, it was perfect.
However, that did not happen. Daniel Jones, who was 4-0 against Washington in his career and 0-5 in primetime games before last night’s competition, played one of the best soccer games of his life. He kept his giants in him until the very end. In fact, at various points in the game, his team was winning. With Washington trailing for much of the game, Ron Rivera and Scott Turner opted for their recovery of JD McKissic passes over Gibson for much of the second half.
However, the Gibson snub started earlier than that. With about 30 seconds left in the first half, and the football team sitting at the opponent’s 1-yard line, many people believed that Gibson would surely score a touchdown. Sure, Washington didn’t have timeouts, but if they were going to execute it, they would do it with Gibson … right?
NO! They handed the ball to McKissic, who danced for six, breaking the hearts of Gibson’s owners.
Now if you didn’t watch the game last night, you’re probably thinking, “Well, was Gibson playing bad?” No. Not at all, Gibson had 69 rushing yards on just 13 carries. That’s an average of 5.3 yards / carry, which is a very good number.
Like I said before, the script for the game really seemed to alter Gibson’s usage. With Washington having to play the role of comeback kings in the second half, McKissic seemed like a better option in Rivera’s mind. I don’t blame him for thinking that. I see a lot of people on Twitter complaining that Gibson was a wide receiver in college who converted to running back, so if anyone should be a pass receiver, it should be Gibson. While all of that is true, you are also drastically underestimating McKissic’s story. Other than Gibson, do you know who else was a wide receiver in college? JD McKissic. Between the two of you, who do you think had the most receiving yards throughout their college careers in Division I? Answer: JD McKissic. In fact, McKissic had more receptions in his redshirt freshman season in the state of Arkansas (103) that Gibson had in all of his JuCo and Memphis careers. So yes, Gibson is a more than capable pass receiver, but McKissic is by far the best option in the passing game.
You also have to take into account the blocking of passes. Gibson was not a good pass blocker in 2020, and he made a effort to improve in that department during the 2021 offseason. McKissic, on the other hand, is phenomenal at pass protection. Pro Football Focus gave McKissic a pass blocking rating of 82.9 in 2020, fourth among running backs. Gibson received a 19.2 grade, which came last among qualified riders.
However, these numbers still don’t explain some of the play calls during last night’s contest. With Washington up by two points, with just over two minutes left in the game and New York with just a timeout and two-minute warning, you’d think Washington’s soccer team would play conservatively and try to kill the clock on an effort to win the game, but No. Washington opted to pass the ball.
Why? No idea. If this were at third and long, I’d understand the decision, but this was at second and 7. Gibson had just scored 15 rushing yards in the last two plays. So why the hell would he give the Giants a chance to force a rotation like that? That pass didn’t even pass the first down marker. It was intended for Terry McLaurin, who was two yards from the yellow line. Even if that pass had been completed, it is not certain that McLaurin would have made the first attempt. Seeing how Gibson had averaged more than five yards per carry in this game. Running the ball would probably have had a similar result. Yet Washington felt compelled to bet the game.
Honestly, I feel bad for the Giants. Washington didn’t deserve that victory last night. Obviously, there were several times when using McKissic made sense. However, repeatedly overlooking Gibson throughout the game only makes me scratch my head. Gibson has been one of the most efficient running backs in the NFL since he became Washington’s starter in mid-2020. There is no flaw in having faith in an inexperienced quarterback. If you know you can play ball then by all means put the game in your hands. However, you need to give that inexperienced quarterback as much help as possible. The Giants struggled to stop the race every time Gibson was inside. Gibson’s presence would not only have helped Washington push the ball downfield more often, which would have put Washington in a position where they didn’t need a last-second field goal to secure the win, but it would also have opened up. the action of the game and given players like Logan Thomas and Terry McLaurin more room to work.
I think Twitter user @tomwendell said it best:
Rivera said he wanted use Gibson as Christian McCaffreyBut he’s not using him as much as McCaffrey. Let Antonio Gibson cook! It should only help Washington in the long run.