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In Lacy's Homecoming, Packers' Montgomery Can Silence Skepticism with Fast Start

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In Lacy's Homecoming, Packers' Montgomery Can Silence Skepticism with Fast Start

After an offseason full of praise, any skepticism about Packers running back Ty Montgomery can be easily silenced with a fast start to the 2017 season.

It was initially believed that Montgomery wouldn't be able to fully handle a full-time gig as the team's starting tailback, and that may be a narrative that'll remain unsolved. ESPN's Rob Demovsky recently noted to colleague and fantasy expert Mike Clay that the Packers expect Montgomery to double his 77 carries from a season ago and split time with fourth-round running back Jamaal Williams.

However, Montgomery has seemingly bulked up this offseason—his first as the Packers' starting running back—in preparation for a vigorous year. A year that some former All-Pro running backs think will be an impressive one for the 24-year old Montgomery.

Just last week, ex-Giants running back Tiki Barber fawned over the possibilities of Montgomery being on the field for an extensive amount of snaps. He also acknowledged the variety of ways the Packers can utilize Montgomery, including motioning him out wide from the backfield and pairing him up with an opposing linebacker. He believed the Packers were "amazing" with Montgomery on the field.

On Monday, soon-to-be Hall of Fame running back from the Chargers Ladanian Tomlinson predicted a monstrous year for Montgomery, generously giving him 15 total touchdowns as well as over 1,500 total yards, roughly 1,000 of them being via the ground game.

If Montgomery can eclipse these numbers, which is realistically unlikely, it may just leave Packers fans without a hint of remembrance for his predecessor.

The Packers chose not to re-sign Eddie Lacy once his contract expired this offseason, ultimately leading to him becoming a Seahawk. His one-year deal was essentially packed with incentives, including seven weigh-ins from the start of offseason team activities and through camp. Each time he doesn't tip the scale over the estimation benchmarks the coaching staff set for him, he's compensated heavily.

Lacy's 2016 season—his last one in Green Bay—only lasted less than five games, leading to an ankle injury that would later require surgery. It's a nagging ordeal that may keep Lacy out for the start of the Seahawks' camp, as Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times noted that his ankle "isn't 100 percent."

Almost like a match made in a film, the Packers coincidentally open up their 2017 regular season against the visiting Seahawks, who will likely have Lacy at their disposal barring any further injuries or Thomas Rawls winning the starting job, which definitely isn't out of the cards for Seattle.

Either way, they'll have a dynamic running game to match the diversity the Packers currently have at the running back position. Between Montgomery, Williams, Aaron Jones and Devante Mays—if they keep four running backs on the opening-day roster—there shouldn't be much of a dilemma to see who shoulders the load. 

The Montgomery hype can come to fruition with a strong week one performance, in which many will compare his numbers to his positional foe in Lacy. It would offer a glimpse into what the Packers let go and what they held on to. It's a perfect situation for Montgomery to show off his digs as the lead runner and all but solidify his premier role in the Packers' backfield.

He'd have his work cut out for him if his goal was to top Lacy's production from a year ago. Lacy was off to his best start in terms of yards per carry average (5.1) since his 2013 rookie campaign (5.3), whereas Montgomery averaged 5.9 in his six starts a season ago. 

It only took Montgomery a few games to top Lacy's single-game rushing record of 150 yards, tallying 162 en route to a 30-27 victory over the Bears.

Luckily for Montgomery, his best rushing performances a year ago came when running off of left tackle David Bakhtiari. Coincidentally, that was one of Seattle's weakest points of run defense.

The Packers' running game as a whole averaged 6.77 yards per carry in 2016 when running outside of Bakhtiari, doing so for a 13.4 percent of their run calls. The Seahawks, meanwhile, surrendered 3.73 yards per carry in that respect, their second-worst average of any direction.

There's a variety of weak points along the Seahawks' defensive front, which may just give Montgomery the advantage. That is until you flip the numbers in the Seahawks' favor. 

Green Bay's weakest direction as a defensive unit was from the right end, giving up 5.49 yards per touch. On the flip side, that same direction is where the Seahawks saw a 7.68 average per carry last season, managing to rack up 284 yards on just 37 carries. It was their highest average of any direction in 2016.

Of course, that was in 2016. Nothing may come easy for either team on September 10th.

The Packers have a mix of strength, agility and precision with Montgomery's running style, and that won't seem to fade anytime soon given his robust physique that only heightens his abilities as a ball-carrier. He can set the tone for the rest of his season with a strong outing doing Lacy's former duties. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (10) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jlc1's picture

Lots of writing here and other websites about the team's talent on offense at skill positions. And there is a lot of such talent, no doubt. Not enough is, so far, being written about the huge unknown of the team's offensive line this year. Most football games and all football seasons are won in the trenches. We just don't know enough yet about what the Pack has this year up front. We do know that TT pretty clearly disagrees that winning is about winning at the line of scrimmage.

cuervo's picture

"We do know that TT pretty clearly disagrees that winning is about winning at the line of scrimmage."

No...what we do know is that TT clearly disagrees with overpaying aging injured players at positions that can filled more easily than so called "skill positions".

jlc1's picture

Cuervo TJ Lang might be a case in point. He needed off season surgery so maybe he fits part of your rationale as "injured". But he had significant surgery last off season too. Lang had a pretty good season after that surgery so "injured" only goes so far in why TT let him go. As for age, well TT signed a guy for the offensive line, Evans, who is 4 years older than Lang. So he actually doesn't mind "aging" offensive linemen. As for overpaying that of course is less objective, at least for now, until we see if whoever plays RG this year outplays Lang this year. However I think it can still be said that TT regards players at the line of scrimmage as fairly easy to replace. And I also think that is why we are still waiting for another Super Bowl in the McCarthy/Rodgers era.

chugwater's picture

You make it sound like we have SEA or MIN's offensive line when in fact we have the best pass blocking tackles in the game and one of the better centers.

There's no definitive evidence he undervalues 'the trenches' at all.

Finwiz's picture

>We do know that TT pretty clearly disagrees that winning is about winning at the line of scrimmage.<

Never thought about it in those terms, but this could very well be the case. Love to sit in a room with that guy and really get an understanding of what his football philosophy really is.

canadapacker's picture

When I see backs on other teams become the go to surprise guys after being picked in the 4th round, I have always wondered why the Packers are not selecting somebody down there. This year we have one in Williams, and I believe he will be that guy that has a break out season once he gets acclimitized. As long as he holds onto the ball. I think that he can be that shake and bake guy. Lacy had some big holes opened up over the past few years and just could loaf it into the endzone. As a running back when you are tracked down by a linebacker or lineman you should know that you have become fat and slow. I think that our offense is going to be dynomite this year.

Handsback's picture

Because Monty came to be a RB in a very unconvetional method, he's looked at as maybe a running back that's not as effective as the other starters in the NFL.

I think that is very crazy thinking on the part of sportwriters. Watch the tape of his games and tell me where he falls short other then pass blocking.

nostradanus's picture

The Packers have two Pro-Bowl caliber offensive tackles, how many teams have that? Linsley is rock solid at Center and Taylor held his own at Left Guard, the Offensive Line will be just fine. As for Montgomery, 60-70 yards rushing and 50-60 yards receiving per game would be just about right. There are so many weapons on offense that Monty doesn't need to go for 150 on the ground each game. The rookie RB's will get their carries as well as a few from Cobb and the Ripper. Share the load in the backfield and this offense will be next to impossible for defenses to handle!
Go Pack!
NostraDANus

Nick Perry's picture

I guess L.T. and I share the same optimism about Montgomery. I've suggested a few times this off season Montgomery will gain around 1600 yards between rushing and receiving though I think 15 TD's is a bit high. I think this dude will go off this season and will be one of the biggest reasons this offense will e borderline unstoppable, especially when in a 2 TE set with him in the backfield.

I've also heard a lot of talk about the number of touches Montgomery will get. Most suggest he'll get 12 to 15 touches a game. If the man is producing a 5 plus average YPC then WHY limit the carries? He's the BIGGEST RB the Packers will have other than Rip and Mays. He's almost 15 pounds heavier than Williams and Williams is being described as the "Power Back".

I have no idea how any of these rookies RB's will do in GB. There's been too many RB's who gained tons of yardage in college who fizzled in the NFL. I know the Packers are in a much better place than they were last year at the position which is the most important thing. Montgomery is MADE for the Packers offense and MADE to play RB. My guess is he performs so well McCarthy won't want to take him off the field. My guess is Montgomery will average around 20 touches a game. Not because that's all he can handle. It will be because the Packers have Aaron Freaking Rodgers who might have his best season yet in 2017.

PatrickGB's picture

The strength of our line is pass protection. The loss of Lang will hurt in run blocking going to the right. The guys on that side struggle with it. However, our new tight ends can block and teams cannot load up the box because of our lethal passing threats at RB, slot and TE. I see a better run game from us this year but we will primarily be a pass first team.

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