In a world of pass-happy offenses, Ron Rivera still puts value in having a strong rushing attack featuring multiple players. The Washington Commanders head coach had considerable success in Carolina deploying the rushing talents of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Rivera is hoping to have similar success in Washington with Antonio Gibson and rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr.
Washington spent a third-round pick on Robinson in the 2022 NFL Draft. A strong, physical runner, Robinson was brought in to complement Gibson, who tallied nearly 2,400 all-purpose yards during his first two NFL seasons. In the process, Rivera is hoping the duo can mimic the success Stewart and Williams had in Carolina. The Panthers duo combined for 4,717 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns during their time together under Rivera from 2011-14, helping the team win back-to-back NFC South titles.
"He's going to add very nicely to what we have with Antonio Gibson in terms of a 1-2 punch," Rivera said of Robinson, who ran for more than 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns during his final season at Alabama. "A lot of success that I've had as a head coach has a lot to do with having a quality 1-2 punch. We had Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams in Carolina my first four seasons. We were very successful with that, so we feel really good about who this combination, this tandem, can be for us moving forward."
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Rivera said the addition of Robinson will help take some of the pressure off Gibson, who had exactly 300 touches last season.
"Now, we're going to give him an opportunity to get out in space, and that's what he does best," Rivera said of Gibson. "He makes people miss, and he's sneaky fast."
Rivera also feels Robinson's addition will take some pressure off J.D. McKissic, who is used more as a receiver in Washington's offense. McKissic, who caught 80 passes in 2020 while helping Washington clinch the NFC East division title, caught 43 passes last season despite missing six games with an injury.
The trio of Robinson, Gibson and McKissic should make life easier for new Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz, who is hoping to get back to the form that saw him earn Pro Bowl honors during his second season in Philadelphia.