Football Team

Jim Schwartz admits it's hard to prepare for Antonio Gibson

Football Team

Nearly 10 days ago, Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera was asked what role he has planned for rookie Antonio Gibson in the offense.

"We have a plan for him," Rivera said on Aug. 29. "I know we haven’t showed you guys the whole plan, and that’s a part of the secret we’re trying to keep going into the regular season."

Sorry, coach. The secret is out.

Gibson was listed as the team's second running back on Tuesday's first official depth chart, but that is nothing more than a formality. The third-round pick has been getting multiple first-team reps in training camp and has progressed nicely. Gibson's growth throughout camp likely factored into Rivera's decision to release Adrian Peterson, too.

Entering his rookie season, Gibson certainly has a role in Scott Turner's offense, even if we don't know exactly what that is just yet.

Washington begins its 2020 season with a home date with Philadelphia this Sunday, meaning Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is the first one tasked with solving the mystery of Gibson.

When speaking with local reporters on Tuesday, Schwartz admitted the team has dug up some off Gibson's college tape to help prepare for the rookie.

"We did go back and watch the way he played last year at Memphis," Schwartz said. "He's a little bit different than some of these other guys that have been that running back/wide receiver, because generally, they might be a little bit on the lighter side and things like that. This guy is 6-foot, 230-pound type guy with explosive straight-line speed."

 

Gibson began his career at Memphis as a wide receiver, but also had a role out of the backfield. As a senior, Gibson had practically an even split between carries (33) and receptions (38), but what he did once the ball was in his hands was the most impressive part.

On those 33 rushes, Gibson averaged an epic 11.2 yards-per-carry. On the 38 passes caught, Gibson totaled 19.2 yards-per-reception. Of those 71 scrimmage touches, Gibson found the end zone 12 times. When the ball was in Gibson's hands, he made things happen.

"We have to respect him whether he’s lined up at the running back position or lined up at a wide receiver position," Schwartz said.

Like Schwartz mentioned, many players than come into the NFL as running back/wide receiver hybrids are usually smaller in stature. That's not the case with Gibson, who's 6-foot, 220-pound frame has the size to immediately make an impact.

"When he is in the open field, you know, we're going to have to do a good job tackling and maybe even gang tackling, because we're not talking about a 180-pound or 190-pound guy," Schwartz said. "We're talking about a guy that's probably around 230 pounds on Sunday and has the speed, if he can make you miss to go the distance, but also could use his power and try to run guys over. So he's a little bit different."

Washington drafted Gibson to primarily serve as a running back, but he will also have a role as a pass-catcher in Turner's system.

And while the Eagles are unsure exactly how Gibson will be used on Sunday, Philadelphia is doing their due diligence to be prepared for anything Washington may throw their way with the rookie.

"We would expect him to certainly have a big role, and we're sort of just speculating on how they would use him," Schwartz said. "But we'll figure it out on Sunday."