Washington Football Team

2020 Season Roster Review- Running Backs

As the 2020 season is now in the rear view mirror, it is time to evaluate each position and see what the team needs in the future. The team had a successful season, however there are places where this team can upgrade to become a Super Bowl contender. So I will do a position by position analysis and early prediction of who will be on the roster next season. Previously, I looked at the quarterback position. Today I will look at the running back position.

After the draft and free agency, there was perceived to be a massive log jam at the running back position. After signing JD McKissic and Peyton Barber through free agency and drafting Antonio Gibson and converting him to running back, the room was bursting at the seams. Derrius Guice eliminated himself by his off the field actions which got him released. Fan favorite and future hall of famer Adrian Peterson was released at the end of training camp after two productive seasons with Washington. That left a unproven young backfield that had its ups and downs.

Review

  • Antonio Gibson- The 3rd round draft pick was a wide receiver at Memphis in college. The coaching staff said Gibson had running back skills and would play him at the position. With the lack of a preseason, it took sometime for Gibson to adjust and learn how to run as a running back. Once he did, Gibson took off until he suffered a turf toe injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers which cost him two games. Gibson shined against the Cowboys earning both of his 100 yard rushing games against the rivals from Dallas. Gibson will improve as he gets more snaps as a traditional running back. Better quarterback play will help him as well. Final Stats- 170 carries for 795 yards (4.7 ypc), 11 touchdowns, 36 receptions for 247 yards in 14 games.

    Antonio Gibson runs the ball against the Panthers. 12/27/20
  • JD McKissic- McKissic was brought in as a free agent from the Detroit Lions after originally coming into the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. McKissic was valued for his receiving skills and being a 3rd down back. In Scott Turner’s offense, running back versatility and multiple backs set are valued and McKissic fit that role perfectly. McKissic played in every game and depending on how the defense defended, McKissic was a very efficient weapon. McKissic’s best game was against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, where he had 10 catches for 70 yards. McKissic was a great signing for Washington. Final Stats- 85 carries for 365 yards (4.3 ypc), 1 touchdown, 80 receptions for 589 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games.

    JD McKissic (41) celebrates after scoring a touchdown. 1/09/21 photo courtesy of @GriffinVision
  • Peyton Barber-  The power back of the squad was Peyton Barber, a free agent signing from Tampa Bay. Barber was used mainly as a short yardage back, so his carries were limited. Barber was not extremely explosive but he was effective. Barber is more of the bruiser type back, so he would be more effective with more carries. Barber’s best game was against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving with 57 yards on the ground. Final Stats- 94 carries for 258 yards (2.7 ypc) and 4 touchdowns, 4 receptions for 12 yards.

    Peyton Barber celebrates a touchdown against the Eagles. 9/13/21

Recommendation

The status of the position is pretty solid but can still be improved. Gibson will improve with more carries and practice in the position. McKissic should continue to be the 3rd down back. His receiving  skills are elite and will still be here. Washington can still upgrade the third back to more of a game breaker. If a talented running back appears in the draft, expect Washington to draft them.

  • Antonio Gibson- Keep on roster
  • JD McKissic- Keep on Roster
  • Peyton Barber- Fighting for third spot