Green and Bold: No. 1 RB Was There All Along

The Packers have been searching for their No. 1 running back all season after starter Eddie Lacy went on injured reserve, even going so far as to sign not one but two free agents in their pursuit of a balanced offense.  But the player who will prove to be the Packers' lead rusher has been on the roster since training camp. He was just playing a different position. 

The Packers have been searching for their No. 1 running back all season after starter Eddie Lacy went on injured reserve, even going so far as to sign not one but two free agents in their pursuit of a balanced offense. 

But the player who will prove to be the Packers' lead rusher has been on the roster since training camp. He was just playing a different position. 

Head coach Mike McCarthy finally made official what we've been saying for weeks now: Ty Montgomery is the Packers' top running back. According to McCarthy, who acknowledges that he probably should have made an announcement about this personnel swap, Montgomery "hasn't gone to a receiver meeting in months."

The Packers still have James Starks and former Seattle rusher Christine Michael on the active roster, but Montgomery, with 228 yards, is already the third-leading rusher on the season after Lacy and Aaron Rodgers, and could eclipse both of them by the conclusion of play in Week 17. 

The big indicator of Montgomery's success running the ball is his 5.2 yards per carry average. That's far and above what "true" running backs Starks (2.3 yards/carry on 63 attempts) or Michael (3 yards/carry on 20 attempts) have managed, and more than Lacy was averaging (5.1) before his season ended. 

Even given that production, however, for some reason McCarthy still seems hesitant to let Montgomery run (pun intended) with the job. Montgomery got only nine attempts on Sunday against the Seahawks, while Michael carried the ball 10 times. 

“There’s packages for everybody. I think we should be cognizant of the fact we’re a football team that’s gone through a lot of injuries. So we don’t just plan for one guy to be featured really at any position," McCarthy said at his Monday press conference. 

While it's true that McCarthy can't stubbornly commit to forcing the ball to Montgomery a certain number of times in a game (after all, they don't always go according to plan), after Montgomery has shown what he can do, it would be insane for McCarthy not to use him as much as the game plan necessitates against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Montgomery has averaged 7.1 yards per attempt over his last two games, and has done more to move the sticks than Starks or Michael. 

As long as Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb remain healthy, Montgomery won't be missed as a receiver. And there's always the option for him to catch the ball out the backfield, something he has been doing with great success even as he plays more in the style of a power back this season. 

Oh, and if you want the Packers to go ahead and change Montgomery's jersey number already, hang tight; he can't change numbers in the middle of a season. But that jersey just might have a "3" in front of it come 2017. 

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Comments (45)

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Savage57's picture

December 14, 2016 at 06:34 am

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck...

Just give him the damn ball.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:05 am

Thank you,

I had people laughing at me for saying last week at Acme Packing Company for saying that Montgomery looked like a version of David Johnson. I really think they share some traits. He can find a hole and explode through it. He can catch any route. To top it off, moving him in and out of the backfield presnap is a total headache for the defense.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:04 am

Montgomery is more then our best running back. He is our x-factor on offense.

He has become the Packers biggest mismatch nightmare for defenses. How do teams try to defend the offense when he is on the field? Do they go base, Nickel, Dime? The offenses most lethal combination is going with Nelson, Adams, Cobb, Cook and Montgomery at RB.

With Montgomery proving that he is in fact a RB and not a WR taking RB snaps, he has given them their most versatile RB probably ever. They have never had a RB with the ability to play Receiver like he can. I mentioned this before, but in the past McCarthy has split Lacy, Starks and Kuhn out wide. I never liked this concept because it allows the safety's and LB's to focus on the other players because they were a non factor out there. When Montgomery goes out there, he is a true threat. Defenses can't just shift their coverage's to other players. Montgomery changes the way defenses have to defend them.

One of the most impressive parts of Montgomery at RB is how well he runs up the middle. He is breaking tackles, gets tiny to make it through small holes. He is not a gimmick or just a role player on offense. He is our legit starting RB. And our X-Factor!

Here are some plays that show that Montgomery is a true RB.
https://twitter.com/zachkruse2/status/808771375531966464?lang=en
https://twitter.com/zachkruse2/status/808341082429947905?lang=en
https://twitter.com/BenFennell_NFL/status/806306235242967040?lang=en

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:13 am

Moving Monty out wide got Nelson on a Linebacker in the redzone against the Seahawks. Easy TD Nelson to Nelson on the crossing route.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:24 am

Exactly. That is the type of matchup problem Montgomery brings.

With Adams becoming a top talent at WR this year, and Nelson returning to form, adding Cook and the development of Montgomery. This has become one of our most versatile and most dangerous offenses we have had under McCarthy.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 14, 2016 at 09:51 am

RC. Dude. That's a stretch.

2011? 2009? 2007? 2014? All better than this year.

I'd say 2012 is about what this year has been - the past month.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 14, 2016 at 10:11 am

Read all the words. This has become ONE of the most.... The keyword is one...

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Bearmeat's picture

December 14, 2016 at 10:24 am

... I guess I don't consider 5th or 6th in 11 years ONE of the "most" :P

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L's picture

December 14, 2016 at 11:13 am

also key words, "...has become..."

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The TKstinator's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:15 am

I prefer a true RB over a false RB.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:23 am

What do you mean?

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dobber's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:46 am

It's TK...likes to play on words.

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The TKstinator's picture

December 15, 2016 at 06:31 am

Guilty as charged.

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The TKstinator's picture

December 14, 2016 at 09:07 pm

Replying to RC: "Here are some plays that show Montgomery is a true RB"

Also, when leaving RB's, I like to ring the little bell in appreciation of their excellent service.

Maybe instead of a Terrible Towel we could all get bells and ring them every time Monty makes a good play.

Shakespeare made a lot of good plays too.

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stockholder's picture

December 14, 2016 at 11:15 am

I prefer a true RB over a false RB. TK is correct. You put the best talent on the football field. MM found a place for Monty. But he should not be counted on as a RB. WE had to many problems at WR. They were so banged up last year. And how can you keep putting R.Rodgers wide?

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Nick Perry's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:19 am

There's been several of us on the Montgomery Bandwagon even before the season started. Happy McCarthy is finally starting to give the kid more opportunities because nothing but good seems to happen when he's on the field. He doesn't dance or jump around thinking where to go (Starks), he just makes his cut and go's. He not only runs tough inside, but the Packers finally have a RB to get around the edge and catches the ball well.

http://www.stanforddaily.com/2015/03/20/cardinal-standouts-shine-at-stan...

Take a look at the picture of Montgomery on that link and tell me he can't handle duties as a RB. He's a 1/2 inch shy of 6'1" and is anywhere between 215 to 221. HELL YES he's a RB!

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Tundraboy's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:33 am

Yup.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:38 am

Yeah, you and I both have been on that bandwagon for a while.

I'm not sure why it takes McCarthy so long sometimes, but finally against the Seahawks Montgomery got the majority of snaps. Since the last Bears game Ty had less then 50% of the offensive snaps in every game until Houston. Against Houston and Seattle he received 50% of the offensive snaps.
Starks meanwhile was receiving a ton of snaps. Against Tennessee, Washington Philadelphia he received 70.5, 48.5, 76.1% of the offensive snaps. The last 2 games he has received 12% both times.

Montgomery's vision is a lot better then I thought it would have been this early. He finds the hole and explodes through it.

And yes... He is a true RB. Anyone questioning it at this point is more stubborn then McCarthy.

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dobber's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:50 am

I don't think, based on his ability as a returner, that many would have doubted Montgomery's vision. Not saying that's the same as playing RB, but he clearly sees the field. I think that Montgomery diversifies the offense in the same kind of way that David Johnson does for the Cards (but he's not a David Johnson, at least, not yet), but IMO Monty will do best in a timeshare with another back--and Michael could very well be that back--where they split 25+ touches per game.

Coming out of college, some doubted Monty's hands and ball security. We haven't seen that issue, but with more usage we'll see if it was a real concern or not.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 14, 2016 at 08:26 am

yeah, where his vision really is impressive is where he finds those little holes. Holes that don't exist for Starks or Lacy.

Johnson while a different type of RB, is a good comparison based on his versatility and how they are used in their offenses.

Montgomery just fits with how the Packers want to run their offense.

If I remember right most people questioned Montgomery's deep ball hands. They said he didn't track the deep ball well. Everything underneath he has been terrific.

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L's picture

December 14, 2016 at 11:26 am

Yeah, I think I might have been one of the originals who saw the potential long before he was getting much of a shot at the RB position, but to be honest he's been better than I could have imagined considering I saw him mostly as the change-of-pace and 3rd down specialist back instead of the team's #1 RB (to be fair - a #1 who splits his duties plenty and not someone who gets 75%+ of the offensive snaps). Now, I think he could be our teams #1 RB while using C.Michael as the change-of-pace back and E.Lacy (if he returns) as the tough yardage grinder back. Btw, I'm really liking what we have at RB for next year if we resign Michael and Lacy at reasonable deals -- plus cut Starks.

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4thand1's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:31 am

I've been a Monty fan from the time the Packers drafted him. He doesn't get the ball nearly enough as he should. All he does is make plays. It seems MM and the offense takes until Dec to come up with new wrinkles, hence the teams success in Dec under MM. It always begs the question, why does it take so long?

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:41 am

'He doesn't get the ball nearly enough as he should. '

I agree. Before the game against the Seahawks I said I wanted him to touch the ball (running and receiving) 15+ times. He got it 12. Which was the most he has had since the Bears game.
He can easily handle more carries and catches.

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pacman's picture

December 14, 2016 at 08:10 am

Because MM is a stubborn mule! Sometimes it helps (Crosby, Adams), other times - not so much (in game adjustments, adjustments in general).

Overall? I'm not sure but we have arguably the best qb in the league for the last 6 years and we haven't gotten back to the SB. That's what it comes down to. I'm tired of hearing about the Packers making the playoffs for the last X years. If you don't take a AR and reasonable team to the playoffs, you should be fired immediately. If you don't get back to the SB for 6 years? Hmmm.

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EdsLaces's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:36 am

I think w his illness or whatever you want to call it he can't handle a full workload. He comes out of the game aloto more than MM wants him to it seems.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:49 am

I think that initially is why they haven't used him as much right after they discovered that.
But the last 2 games he has received 50% of the offensive snaps so I think they are over that.

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Since'61's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:37 am

RB or not I'm still not sure why we weren't using Monty more earlier in the season. He has clearly emerged as our best RB but he was always one of best 11 offensive players and should have seen the field more often. In any case he's a major weapon now and it's time to get the ball in his hands often. Thanks, Since '61

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Handsback's picture

December 14, 2016 at 07:52 am

Monty should be getting 20 touches per game, including handoffs as a RB, or RB moving to slot as WR, or as outlet for Rodgers. He is a nightmare for LBs and FS/SSs. Making teams play CB on him adds a stress level that opens up other Packer receivers. I look at Monty as another Marshall Faulk. Maybe Monty isn’t as fast as Faulk, but he can be just as effective at least in my opinion.

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Paul Ott Carruth's picture

December 14, 2016 at 08:03 am

Ty Montgomery measured in at 6'0 220-223 at the combine. By contrast, Le'Veon Bell measured in at 6'1 230. Montgomery is more than capable to handle 15-20 carries per game.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 14, 2016 at 08:08 am

yup!

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Bearmeat's picture

December 14, 2016 at 09:54 am

And Lacy? 233 and a 4.46 40! What could have been if he would have just learned to actually act like a professional athlete off the field!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 14, 2016 at 10:31 am

I doubt Lacy has weighted 233 since the combine.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 14, 2016 at 02:36 pm

NOPE. :(

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Dzehren's picture

December 14, 2016 at 10:27 pm

Agreed! My favorite is he Bell to Mony comparison. Apparently Paul Ott missed LeVeon's 48 fantasy points last week

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dobber's picture

December 15, 2016 at 10:05 am

Never did POC say anything about the end-of-game stats. It was strictly a reflection of their comparable physical statures.

I will draw fantasy comments in from time to time, but we need to be careful to divest fantasy performance from the games that actually mean something. Bell won that game for Pittsburgh all by himself last week, and yes it was reflected in a mammoth number of fantasy points, but--by and large--the two are not lockstep with one another.

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Dzehren's picture

December 14, 2016 at 10:19 pm

Please don't compare Le'Veone Bell to Ty Montgomery. We need to win 3 games without a bell cow.

I am a proponent of maximizing Mony but why are you comparing him to Bell? come on man.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 15, 2016 at 02:06 am

Why do we keep getting the incorrect combine numbers from commenters? Drives me nuts. Lacy weighed 231 at the combine. He did not run or work out at the combine. At his pro day, he ran a 4.64 (if he had run a 4.46 forty at the combine he'd have been a sure 1st round pick).

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=89659&draftyear=...

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Paul Ott Carruth's picture

December 15, 2016 at 07:55 am

Montgomery has nearly the same physical stature as Bell. My comment mentioned nothing about performance comparison. Clearly, Bell is the better of the two for the position. The point is that Montgomery has the physical traits to hold up running the ball more frequently and between the Tackles.

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Lphill's picture

December 14, 2016 at 08:10 am

I would still like to see more of Michael he seems like a hard runner , I would be comfortable next season with a healthy Lacy, Montgomery and not Starks in the backfield.

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lecko's picture

December 14, 2016 at 08:13 am

He looks very natural at RB position.
Thinking way too much ahead, his agent may not like that salaries for RBs are much less than for WR. But on the other hand as a WR he was only a role player, as RB he has chance to be a starter.

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Razer's picture

December 14, 2016 at 09:01 am

Glad that we finally tapped into Montgomery's potential. I wanted to see the Packers get a change of pace RB for a long time. Montgomery gives us speed, versatility and pass catching out of the backfield - finally.

I am not sure if I smell smoke or not but I wonder if we still have a deficiency with our RB coaching. Starks takes a big step back, Christine can't seem to figure out which way to go, even our fullbacks have miscues in this offense. Why is this so difficult? How complicated do we need to make running the ball?

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Dzehren's picture

December 14, 2016 at 11:22 pm

razor- You Might be onto something. knile Davis Brandon Burks, don Jackson , John Crockett , Rajon NEIL, Brandon Burks were lackluster.
losing Jonathon Franklin & not signing Marshawn Lynch for a 2nd or 3rd rounder hurt us the most. Also- most of these guys listed were/are UDFA's who got injured.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

December 14, 2016 at 09:36 am

I like Montgomery as a complementary back (and he would be a very good one) as opposed to a featured running back.

I do believe the Packers' answer will have to come out of next years draft class unless Eddie Lacy can make a full physical recovery and commit to getting in the kind of shape he was when he entered the league.

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Dzehren's picture

December 14, 2016 at 09:18 pm

Question 4 Michelle Bruton- Vikings & Packers have similar issue w/ AP & Lacy out- who in ur opion has more value/ impact this week & next week with a playoff run- Ty Montgemery or Jerick McKinnon?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 15, 2016 at 02:15 am

Montgomery's success at RB and MM's failure to use him earlier has to be one of the top 2 or 3 knocks on MM for those who want to see him fired.

Moreover, the better Monty does, the bigger the knock on MM will be perceived to be.

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