The Washington Commanders are about a month removed from wrapping up the 2022 season with a win over the Dallas Cowboys, and now it is time to start looking at 2023 and how the team can build off its 8-8-1 finish.
Over the next few weeks, Commanders.com will break down every position group and lay out how the Commanders could improve the group in the coming months. Here are the positions we have covered so far:
Next up are the running backs.
On the roster
- Antonio Gibson: 15 games (6 starts), 149 carries, 546 yards, 3 TDs
- Brian Robinson: 12 games (9 starts), 205 carries, 797 yards, 2 TDs
- Jonathan Williams: 13 games (2 starts), 37 carries, 152 yards,
- Jaret Patterson: 3 games, 17 carries, 78 yards
- Reggie Bonnafon: 1 game, 3 carries, 8 yards
- J.D. McKissic: 22 carries, 95 yards
-- Brian Robinson became the downhill back Washington expected: Being shot twice prior to the start of the 2022 season might have delayed Robinson's regular season debut, but it did not stop him from putting together a strong rookie campaign.
Robinson managed to rush for 797 yards in 12 games (he was ruled inactive for the season finale), which was fifth among all rookie running backs. Despite the fact that he missed a chunk of the season, he was still fifth in rushing attempts with 205 carries among rookies.
Robinson had a knack for gaining positive yardage, and it helped increase his offensive grades from Pro Football Focus. The site gave him a grade of 82.5, which ranked second among all rookie running backs. It seems that Washington has found a core piece of its backfield for the foreseeable future.
-- A strong ground game gave Washington the most success: Washington managed to turn its season around after starting 1-4, and the running game was at the center of that surge.
The Commanders were 21st in rushing yards heading into their Week 5 matchup with the Tennessee Titans. From that point on, they rose nine spots thanks to a commitment to the ground attack. They rushed for at least 100 yards in 10 of the remaining 12 games and went 7-4-1 during that span.
Washington ended the season fourth in rushing attempts, and the results are clear: if Washington's game plan revolves around running the ball, it leads to victories for the Burgundy & Gold.
-- The Commanders have a strong duo: As good as Robinson was last season, he was only one part of the Commanders' backfield. Gibson was just as important to Washington's success, albeit in a slightly different role.
While Robinson was used more between the tackles, Gibson's role involved him utilizing his speed and quickness to make players miss on the perimeter. His receiving grade was second only to Christian McCaffrey among running backs, so the plan work in many regards. Among his fellow Commanders, he was fourth in receiving yards (353), tied for fourth in receiving touchdowns (2), fourth in receiving yards per game (23.5), second in yards after the catch (297) and fourth in first downs (18).
Together, Robinson and Gibson combined for 1,756 total yards. It will be exciting to see what the two can do in 2023, when both players have a full offseason to get healthy.
The Commanders are unlikely to make drastic changes to their running back group, but there are some intriguing options out there. Check out which running backs will be available in March, HERE.
There are few, if any running backs this year who warrant a first-round pick, but teams should be able to find players in the later rounds (Robinson, for example, was a Day 2 pick) who could add value to their offense. Check out CBS Sports' rankings at the position, HERE.