The Redskins have a grand vision for how they want to use Antonio Gibson on offense. Not everyone agrees that's the best way to incorporate the third-round pick, though.
During an interview with the Redskins Talk podcast, NBC Sports analyst Josh Norris explained that he's actually "a little nervous" about Washington's plans for Gibson. To him, the "Swiss Army Knife ideas" that are so prevalent in the NFL (and come up so often when imagining Gibson's role as a pro) aren't as functional in practice as they are in theory.
Instead, Norris would rather the Redskins line Gibson up at one spot for the majority of his snaps and focus on getting him involved there, as opposed to sprinkling him in at running back as well as at inside and outside receiver.
In fact, according to Norris, one thriving player in the league has a game that's very similar to Gibson's and that player's team has figured out how to use him perfectly. Conveniently enough for the Burgundy and Gold, their new offensive coordinator has already worked with the guy, too.
"I’d look at Scott Turner in his past and what he did last year with DJ Moore is how I, personally, would use Antonio Gibson," Norris told Redskins Talk. "DJ Moore is not, if you look at his skills and where he’s best, I wouldn’t put route running at the top. What he is best at are slants and routes across the formation like drags and getting the ball in his hands. Antonio Gibson can do all of that stuff."
It sure seems like the organization intends to use the Memphis product as a running back, at least early on in his career. They even gave him a running back's number back in late April.
While Norris acknowledged the backfield is where Gibson could make the easiest transition, he believes the "absolute monster after the catch" could really do damage out of the slot if Turner's willing to feature him that way.
"If you want, put him there and let him dominate in the middle of the field and take those fun and exciting touches in the backfield," Norris said. "To me, that’s his best role. Not being like, ‘OK, now we’re going to take Derrius Guice out of the ball game and put Antonio Gibson here for three snaps.’"
Gibson can do some really rare things for someone his size, but he's still quite raw in some aspects. That, combined with an offseason where in-person coaching and 11-on-11 reps will be super limited, may prevent him from really contributing early.
To help speed up that process, Norris suggested looking at what the Seahawks did with DK Metcalf and the 49ers did with Deebo Samuel in 2019, in addition to how the Panthers have deployed Moore.
With Metcalf and Samuel, for example, Seattle and San Fran "kept things super simple for them and then just added as the year went along." For the first handful of weeks last year, those two weren't asked to handle much more than what they had to manage in college.
If the Redskins follow that blueprint with Gibson, Norris is confident they can get yards and scores out of him right away, then watch him develop even more as he gains experience.
"Antonio Gibson is the type of player that needs to be on the field in an offense that lacks that explosion completely," he concluded.
Turner, Ron Rivera and everyone other decision maker with Washington surely agrees with that statement, which is why they selected Gibson 66th overall in the draft. Yet just because Gibson can do a lot doesn't mean he will do a lot.
The Redskins have the makings of a dangerous offensive tool in Gibson, yes, but they have a ways to go before he turns into one. And while the team and Norris may disagree on what position that's most likely to occur at, they surely intersect when it comes to wanting to highlight his abilities with the ball in his hands.
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