Rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs had a solid debut in the Lions 21-20 upset over the Chiefs, meaning it’s time to increase his workload.
Per Pro Football Focus, the 21-year-old only had seven carries.
Nonetheless, he logged 42 rushing yards, forced six missed tackles, had 34 yards after contact and averaged 4.9 yards per carry after contact. Also, he flashed potential as a pass-catcher, hauling in two receptions for 18 yards.
Before the matchup against the defending Super Bowl champions, Lions head coach Dan Campbell said he wanted to be “smart” with Gibbs’ usage, via Michelle Steele of ESPN. While it was wise to not overload the Alabama product in his first game, the young running back proved he could handle a larger role.
RB1 David Montgomery earned the majority of touches in the victory, with 21 carries for 74 yards (3.5 yards per carry) and a TD. He was solid, but it’s clear he doesn’t have the same burst as Gibbs. The Lions will need more explosive playmaking when they face elite defenses later this season.
Additionally, maximizing Gibbs’ ability as a receiver benefits quarterback Jared Goff. The QB turned in a decent performance, completing 22-of-35 passes for 253 yards and a TD. Yet he didn’t face a strong pass rush as the Chiefs only generated four QB hits without star DT Chris Jones. Using a back in the short passing game will give him a safety valve against opponents better at generating pressure.
Many questioned the Lions when they selected an RB with the 12th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Despite the criticism, Gibbs showed he possesses the potential to become a game-changer on offense.
The Lions should unleash the rookie. He could become a pivotal contributor that helps the organization win its first divisional title since 1991.