Football Team

Washington vs. Giants: One number to know for Week 2

Football Team

Before every one of Washington's matchups for the 2021 season, Pete Hailey will present one number to know for that particular battle.

Here's what's on his mind, and what should be on your mind, for when the Giants visit FedEx Field.

2

Washington's second game of the 2021 season will also feature the team's second starting quarterback, and naturally, that storyline will vacuum up most of the attention. However, that isn't why the number to know for the Thursday night showdown with the Giants is two.

Instead, the two has to deal with Antonio Gibson — and if Gibson can bump it up to three against New York, then Taylor Heinicke's job will be made a lot easier.

Aside from Terry McLaurin, Gibson is probably the offense's most important contributor, and aside from the crushing fumble he lost versus the Chargers in Week 1, he turned in a really nice effort. Overall, Gibson converted his 20 rushing attempts into 90 yards, which meant he averaged 4.5 yards per carry.

That said, as productive as Gibson was in the opener, he still didn't top 100 yards, and that brings us to the above, bolded digit.

Including last year's playoff loss to the Bucs, Gibson has started 16 times as an NFL running back, but he's only gone over 100 yards on the ground twice. In fact, last Sunday's outing at FedEx Field was just his fourth 90-plus yard output as a rusher.

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Yes, it's true that triple digits are an arbitrary milestone for pro running backs, and Gibson also contributes as a receiver as well. To that point, he had 118 total yards in his first start of 2021. 

It's also true that there have been contests where he's been well on his way to exceeding the century mark, but because Washington has tended to fall behind opponents, he's been eschewed in favor of more passing plays.

Despite that, Heinicke and coordinator Scott Turner would no doubt appreciate it if Gibson could get there on Thursday. If he were able to, that'd mean that the team and not its division rival is controlling the tempo throughout the tilt, that Heinicke wouldn't necessarily need to be leading the charge and that the scoreboard is in the home side's favor.

Gibson breaking out for his third-career 100-yard performance as a runner wouldn't guarantee a Washington win, just like him not doing so doesn't go hand-in-hand with a second-consecutive loss.

It would, though, at least indicate that something very critical is going right for Ron Rivera's club, and that very critical aspect can lead to plenty of other helpful factors such as play-action shots for Heinicke, a worn-down Giants defense and much more.

Sometimes, asking an offense to establish the run can feel as old-fashioned as asking to call someone on their landline. But on Thursday, Washington sure could use a standout stat line from Gibson, no matter how retro of a request that is.

Coverage for Washington vs. Giants begins Thursday at 7 p.m. with Washington Football Kickoff Live on NBC Sports Washington and the MyTeams app. Coverage continues immediately following the game with Washington Football Postgame Live.