Lions rookie Jahmyr Gibbs is becoming the player Detroit dreamed he could be

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Hey, Jahmyr Gibbs fantasy managers, are you happy now?

The 12th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft had some lofty expectations placed on him right out of the gate. Part of that was the Detroit Lions telling us Gibbs would be ‘used in ways we probably wouldn’t expect’ and how highly he was touted coming out of Alabama as a dual-threat “positionless” player by the draftniks. 

In reality, the Lions were going to allow Gibbs to develop. They had David Montgomery on the roster for a reason. Montgomery was the lead back and Gibbs was a complementary piece. They could afford patience with Gibbs.

But then Montgomery went to injured reserve and Monday night was Gibbs’ national coming-out party.

Gibbs’ production really began against the Ravens in Baltimore, in a game pretty much everyone in Detroit would like to forget about. Gibbs, however, had 126 total yards from scrimmage.

It continued as Detroit hosted its first Monday Night Football contest since 2018. The Lions wore their throwbacks and Gibbs showed the entire NFL that he was capable of living up to the hype around him. Gibbs became the first rookie running back to produce a game with over 100 rushing yards and over 30 receiving yards since Barry Sanders in 1989. Yep, Barry Sanders.

Ultimately, Gibbs had rushed for 156 yards on 26 carries and caught all five targets thrown his way for an extra 37 receiving yards. That was good for 189 total yards from scrimmage, which accounted for 39% of the team’s 486 total yards on the night. He became the fourth rookie in team history to produce 150-plus rushing yards and a touchdown in a single game. Both Gibbs and Craig Reynolds had 14 or more rushes and maintained an average of five or more yards per carry. The last time that happened was 1980. 

In his last two games, Gibbs has compiled a combined 315 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. The only other Lions rookies to do that in a two-game span were Kevin Jones in 2004 and Billy Sims, according to Lions PR. The only Detroit rookies to produce 125 or more scrimmage yards per game and score a touchdown in consecutive games were Kevin Jones, Billy Sims and Sanders (again).

Jahmyr Gibbs, Lions dominate Josh Jacobs, Raiders

Jahmyr Gibbs, Lions dominate Josh Jacobs, Raiders

The last two games have catapulted Gibbs’ numbers on the season. He has now accounted for 564 total yards from scrimmage this season (299 rushing, 165 receiving) and two touchdowns. It means that Lions rookies have combined for over 1,000 yards from scrimmage this season thanks to tight end Sam LaPorta also shooting up rookie record books. That ranks as the most scrimmage yards among any rookie corps through Week 8 in the NFL. 

It also places Gibbs third on the list of most scrimmage yards by a rookie in his first six games in team history. Sims had 914 in 1980, Sanders had 569 in 1989 and Gibbs has those aforementioned 564. He’s just five yards shy of breaking Sanders’ rookie record in scrimmage yards.

The Lions offense also continues to have plenty of yards and touches to go around. If and when Montgomery comes back, there shouldn’t be a huge dropoff in Gibbs’ usage. The Lions will just have two very productive backs to use as they please. Add in Donovan Peoples-Jones, whom the team acquired right before the trade deadline, and Detroit is loading up for what they believe should be a long playoff run.

So I ask again, Lions fans, are you happy now?

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.

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