In a shocking turn of events, the Detroit Lions signed running back David Montgomery on Tuesday. While many Lions fans, myself included, thought running back Jamaal Williams would be back on the team, they went in a different direction. So they’re going to Chicago to sign David Montgomery, a player they’re fairly familiar with.
During his four-year career, Montgomery rushed for 3,609 yards for 915 carries and 26 touchdowns. In comparison, Jamaal Williams rushed for 3,652 yards with 915 carries and 30 touchdowns during his six-year career in the NFL. Oddly enough, they have the same number of career carries at the start of the 2023 season.
While many Lions fans will be disappointed by the fact that Jamaal Williams has signed a three-year deal with the New Orleans Saints for a total of $12 million. I can assure you it looks like the Lions are getting an upgrade at the position. Despite giving David Montgomery a three-year, $18 million deal, it appears he’s worth the higher price tag. Let’s jump into a ribbon and see why the 25-year-old running back from Iowa State is stepping up the Detroit Lions backfield!
Eyes downfield and terrific cut
One of the first things that struck me about David Montgomery’s abilities is how he looks down too. Montgomery constantly prepares for his next move and can consistently miss defenders in the short areas of the field. Per Fantasy Points Data, Montgomery was tied for the highest forced missed tackle rate among all running backs with 125+ carries at .31. The player he was linked to was Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns.
If you watch the play above, you can see Montgomery forcing a missed tackle with a jump cut. As soon as he has the ball in his hands after the toss, his eyes are down and he calculates what he will do one on one with the defender. Making this cut was the right choice, but don’t just think it’s a one-dimensional back. He can win in different ways.
The story goes on
Twist and keep your feet moving
One of the keys to running backs is to keep your feet moving. Active feet keep you alive, and that’s the case with Montgomery. Because of its strong and flexible bottom half, it’s consistently churning out yards. He averaged 2.90 yards after contact per PFF last season. That’s about on par with Miles Sanders and Kareem Hunt, but it’s also higher than the 2.78 yards after contact that Jamaal Williams averaged last season.
Like I said, Montgomery wins in more ways than one. From flashing good lateral movement skills to jumping cuts or running through arm tackles. If you watch the game above, you’ll see him initially spinning to escape an edge rusher that tumbles inward. Trapped in a heap, he keeps his feet moving and ends up spinning again before finding himself in bottom field with extra yardage. I’m sure these types of runs caught the attention of the Lions front office.
Follow his blocks
Whether it’s a split zone or chasing guards, Montgomery is patient as he lets his blocks develop and follows them. While he doesn’t show much breakaway speed, patience gives him time to gain additional range.
If you watch the piece above, you can see Montgomery following two pulling guards. He runs behind a guard while advancing to the 2nd floor. As you do so, you’ll see him shrug off an arm tackle to gain extra reach. In the three games I’ve watched him run, there’s been consistency across the board.
Total thoughts and lions fit
After watching three games (Atlanta, Green Bay and New England) I am convinced that the Lions made the right decision in signing David Montgomery. Getting a younger back was important to Detroit, and that shows in their willingness to pay more while letting a familiar face walk for less.
Looking back at the three games, it’s obvious that David Montgomery runs with more juice than Jamaal Williams. There is more fluidity with Montgomery’s lower body. Watching him play football feels like there is more conviction and violence.
Well, that’s with all due respect to Jamaal, because he’s a downhill bruiser himself. But Detroit needed more than that. Luckily, with Montgomery, they get that. In addition to his blistering overall results, he had 34 receptions for 316 yards and one touchdown for the Bears last season.
Montgomery runs just as efficiently outside the tackle box and in the open field as he does between tackles. He’s a patient runner with great contact balance and vision. Not every run will be a home run, but he’s an efficient runner who can carry the load and keep defense honest. That should only help the Lions continue to thrive with play-action passes.
Montgomery and Swift’s pairing is going to be interesting and for Montgomery he gets a chance to run behind one of the best offensive lines he’s ever had. The most successful season of Montgomery’s career could be on the horizon. Time will tell, Detroit.
Story originally appeared on Lions Wire