Last year, the Packers had a tough situation down the stretch. Both Eddie Lacy and James Starks suffered injuries in the beginning of the year. They tried to use John Crockett, and even traded a conditional pick to the Chiefs for Knile Davis.
Finally, they found a plan that succeeded. Ty Montgomery was buried on the wide receiver depth chart. Even though he was listed as a receiver in the NFL, he did play running back at Stanford.
In five important games down the stretch for the Packers, Montgomery carried the ball 48 times for 310 yards. That is averaging 6.46 yards per carry.
However, many will point to his big game against the Bears where he carried the ball 16 times for 162 yards. If you take away that game, that still puts his yards per carry at 4.63, still a respectable number. But, fans and analysts will point to the limited amount of carries he received.
Throughout the offseason, fans and analysts alike criticized the idea of the Packers keeping Montgomery as their top option at running back. The critiques were very similar. Many believed that Montgomery wouldn’t be able to handle the amount of touches that a bell cow running back usually gets. Another big one involved pass protection. Three down running backs need to know where to help on pass protection on certain plays. Montgomery struggled with that in 2016.
Translation: Many believed that the Packers were kidding themselves by putting Montgomery at running back.
Despite all of this, Montgomery’s 2017 season has shown us something.
He is a running back, and a darn good one at that.
Yes, the 2017 numbers on the ground aren’t gaudy so far. He was held to 54 yards on 19 carries against Seattle. You know, Seattle, the team that has a ridiculously good front and gave the Packers fits all day.
Last Sunday, against the Falcons, Montgomery only carried the ball 10 times. That was due to game flow and the Packers being behind for the entire game.
But, stats don’t tell the whole story for Montgomery. He showed last season that he is willing to run hard and take the punishment. This season, he’s dishing out more punishment than he is taking. He isn’t afraid of lowering the shoulder into defenders. He also has great balance at contact and enough lower leg strength to power through the hits. Also, his vision is getting better.
Let’s not forget about what else the NFL expects from running backs these days. In the passing league it has become, NFL teams want three down running backs who can affect the passing game as much as the running game.
Luckily, Ty Montgomery is great in the passing game, having been a former receiver. He caught six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown on Sunday night in Atlanta. He has very good hands, and the feel for working in open space.
The critics are still there. They want to see Montgomery last a full season at the position. He’s been doubted for the past year. He’s ready to prove everyone wrong.
Jake Schyvinck covers the Packers and Chiefs for cover32. Follow him on Twitter here.