Campbell: Lions rookie Jahmyr Gibbs to have higher usage going forward

Detroit News

It came from all over — from Detroit Lions fans, from the fantasy football enthusiasts, from draft analysts.

You took a running back 12th overall and you’re not even going to use him?

Lions rookie rusher Jahmyr Gibbs saw a fraction of the workload that veteran David Montgomery did in Thursday night’s 21-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, a situation Dan Campbell clarified Friday was by design, rather than the tempo of the game. Gibbs played 19 snaps, had 42 yards on seven carries (6.0 average) and caught two passes, while Montgomery rushed the ball 21 times for 74 yards (3.5 average), including the go-ahead score.

“That was what we talked about with him. First game, out of the gate, there again, man — we really didn’t wanna overload any of those (rookies),” Campbell said. I think it’s important you go in and let them get a feel of what it’s going to look like. That’s the first one, (so) let’s go in and make sure that the guys that have been around here, the guys that have taken a load for us, that we’ve been in games with, that they take on a bigger load, and we work these rookies in and get them a feel of it — and now they got that one under their belt.”

Though he’ll have a run or two he wants back, Gibbs was not shy about showing off his gifts when he did get the ball in his hands. Of Gibbs’ 42 rushing yards, 34 came after contact (4.9 per carry) and he forced six missed tackles while touching the ball just nine times, according to Pro Football Focus. For context, Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs set a new PFF record by forcing 90 missed tackles in 2022, and before that, only one time had a player recorded more than 80 in a season.

On his second carry, Gibbs ran left out of the shotgun and got a full head of steam going before splitting two tacklers with a spin move and bulldozing Chiefs safety Bryan Cook near the sideline for a 17-yard gain.

On his very next run, with the Chiefs overloading the left side of Detroit’s offensive line, Gibbs attempted to spring right for what appeared to be a likely touchdown run, but he slipped on the cut and went down after a short gain.

“Gibbs, he’s pretty electric, and he’s only going to get better, and he’s going to get a bigger piece of the pie as we move forward,” Campbell said. “… He’ll begin to get more touches now, so that was just the beginning last night.”

False-start fiasco

Perpetual violation of the pre-snap alignment rules by Chiefs offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor sent even the most sane football watchers into a tizzy Thursday night. But Campbell? He shrugged it off. Perhaps easier done since they got the win.

“Yeah, I can’t talk about the officials. I’ve been told that, so I’m not even going there,” Campbell said.

What first caught viewers’ eye was perceived false starts, as Taylor was using his knowledge of the snap count to his advantage by leaving the line slightly early. This is not an uncommon thing among NFL tackles — the Lions’ Taylor Decker has publicly admitted doing it, and if you watch him closely this season, you’ll see some of the same — but what gave the controversy a life of its own was the fact that Taylor was also lined up illegally prior to leaving early on most snaps.

As some, such as future Hall-of-Fame pass rusher J.J. Watt, pointed out on Twitter, offensive tackles will push the limits on leaving early. If nobody speaks up to the official, they might just get away with it the whole game. Campbell declined to answer whether he brought Taylor’s alignment and movement to the officials’ attention.

“Here’s the thing, man. The officials are gonna call or not call what they’re gonna do. Every crew is different; they decide what they are or aren’t gonna do and we gotta play by the rules,” Campbell said. “They were good with it and we gotta adjust.”

Taylor was finally flagged for it on a crucial drive in the fourth, as NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth joked, “Jawaan Taylor, playing slot receiver, finally got busted on one.”

Twitter/X: @nolanbianchi

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