Cory's Corner: Ty Montgomery is a three down back

Eddie Lacy is gone and so is James Starks.

With Ty Montgomery keeping his No. 88 as he transitions to the featured back role fulltime, I think a lot of people are wrong about Montgomery. I don’t think Montgomery is a niche or just keeping the position warm until someone better comes along.

Of Montgomery’s 77 carries last year, he broke off at least 12 for a 10-yard gain. That’s 16 percent. Denver’s C.J. Anderson had 15 percent on 110 carries and Ezekiel Elliott had 15 percent as well on a league-leading 322 carries.

Obviously, 77 carries is a pretty small sample size that was thrust into the running back role due to a rash of injuries, but the thing that separates Montgomery is that he’s multifaceted. He’s thicker than most backs and he proved it by leading the league with an astounding 5.1 yards after contact.

Many may laugh at that number as well by citing the small sample size but he broke 18 tackles. That’s a big number. That’s a number that raises eyebrows and ultimately allows the Packers to part ways with a four-year pro in Lacy.

And obviously, Montgomery is an excellent receiver. I could see Montgomery being a three-down back and getting 15-18 carries a game. When Montgomery was in the game at the end of the season, the offense operated a tick quicker and looked smoother.

Is Montgomery a question mark by handing the majority of the rushing offense to a converted wideout? Sure. But Montgomery has quelled the questions by showing that he can run between the tackles and not shying away from contact — especially in frigid December when every precious yard is almost sacred.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t fully on board with Montgomery taking over the running back role last year after Lacy went down and Starks showed next to nothing as a backup.

But I was quickly sold when I saw Montgomery scamper 61 yards on a delayed draw out of the shotgun vs. Chicago. He followed that up with a 36 run off left guard on the next series that was once again out of the shotgun.

What separates Montgomery is his smarts. He plays like a five-year pro by patiently waiting for a hole to develop before smashing through the line. And since he’s coming from a wide receiver mindset, he understands what Aaron Rodgers is thinking when he opts for a pass option at the line of scrimmage when he sees a defensive matchup that he knows he can easily take advantage of.

Montgomery was in his second season as a pro last year and he asked the coaching staff if they wanted him back there he wouldn’t mind. Not many guys would do that, knowing that in 2019 free agency would loom and if there was a downturn in production, how would his value be judged?

It’s pretty reassuring that Montgomery put the team over his himself and if he has another strong season as a running back, he will likely be rewarded to remain a Packer for awhile.

Montgomery’s road to becoming the Packers’ lead back has been odd, but he’s been anything but a comet. He’s not flaming out anytime soon. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (40)

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NickPerry's picture

March 21, 2017 at 06:47 am

I've always been on the Montgomery bandwagon, even before last season started I was hoping he'd be used in the backfield like Cobb only more often, not just as a gimmick 3 or 4 plays a game. Some point to his size and suggest he's not built for the position. The man is 6 feet tall, 215 to 220 depending where you look, and IS built like "Brick S***house".

After an Offseason of training to play the position of RB he'll be a hell of a lot better coming into camp than he was at the end of the season and that's exciting. The Packers still need to address the position in the draft, but they don't need a starter, they need a backup to Montgomery.

MM always says he likes to run the ball but even with Lacy he seemed to get away from it from time to time. I get it, when you have Rodgers it's hard not to want to throw the ball every play. But Montgomery could be good for 1500 yards combined rushing and receiving a year and that's production. I have a feeling MM is going to have some new looks this year and Monty is a huge part of them.

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 21, 2017 at 07:30 am

Yes, we were both on his bandwagon right away.

Though I will admit, I didn't know he was going to be as good as he is at a pure RB positions.

I can see them drafting 2 RB's in this draft. One higher (2-3rd) and another in the mid to late rounds 4-6 area. If they do go with 2, I hop they get a power RB and one more similar to Montgomery.

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NickPerry's picture

March 21, 2017 at 07:56 am

Yup we were and I'm with you on the RB too though I'd prefer to wait until the 4th round before taking a RB. If Alvin Kamara from Tennessee was there in the 3rd then grab him but that's NOT happening. With the Defense the way it is today do you want to use a 2nd round pick on a RB?

We both mentioned it in our previous comments, can't wait to see Montgomery after a full offseason of training for the position. That dude is going to be a big weapon this year.

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Bearmeat's picture

March 21, 2017 at 01:00 pm

I think that MM believes our power back is already on the roster. (Rip)

What they need is depth, just in case Monty gets hurt or doesn't pan out. They need to NOT have another 2016 at the RB position.

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GB Jacker's picture

March 21, 2017 at 12:28 pm

I agree and I thought he looked great - patient and enough burst, plus those legs always seemed to be moving.

I was worried he might be coached up too much and perhaps start to overthink but it sounds like he got a lot of coaching at RB in college and high school so perhaps it's not that remarkable what he was able to do.

It seems much harder to learn to play receiver in the NFL than tailback.

I love the idea of him and Cobb (or McCaffrey) split backs. Opens up a lot of creative avenues

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GB Jacker's picture

March 21, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Even more interesting since Kendricks and Ripkowski can also play out of the backfield. This season should be fun offensively at the very least

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 21, 2017 at 07:19 am

I liked Lacy. He was having a really good year until he got hurt. While I liked Lacy he wasn't a great fit for the Packers offense. Lacy is more of a traditional RB who isn't as great out of the shotgun. He is better with a lead blocker in a more traditional type of offense. With Rodgers running the offense the Shotgun is the best formation for him with what he likes to do. After Montgomery came in the offense really opened up. His ability to run out of the shotgun really changed the offense in what it could do.

Montgomery showed that he can be used in many ways as a RB out of the backfield. He showed he can block (though needs improvement), he can run between the tackles or be used as a WR out of the backfield. An offseason to fully learn the RB position will really help Montgomery out.

While I really, really like Montgomery, I am hoping they bring in at least 2 more RB's. I'd like to see them get a power type of RB and another more similar to Montgomery. A speedy/shifty type that can come in and run the same type of offense that Montgomery is used in.

One reason why I do like the idea of bringing in McCaffery is because he could be used in tandem with Montgomery and the offense really wouldn't have to change. They can be used not only as RB's but WR's, and the offense would be that much more explosive.

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GB Jacker's picture

March 21, 2017 at 12:36 pm

It's a luxury we probably can't afford but McCaffrey would be fascinating in terms of multiple looks.

We've still got his older brother on the roster too right?

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croatpackfan's picture

March 21, 2017 at 07:30 am

Well, Cory, you are right. Ty is three down back, but he is lot of more than that, as you mentioned correctly. Anyhow, he is DC nightmare...

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dobber's picture

March 21, 2017 at 08:15 am

The issue is that very few RB hold up to a full season's worth of punishment. FFL makes you very cognizant of that fact. Many teams now use a committee approach and have shied away from using a guy for 4 quarters as that 3-down, bell-cow back. I think this makes sense.

I don't have any reason to believe that Don Jackson is even a replacement level player. This means that the Packers, as RC has said, really need to find two backs during this off-season. I think Monty will be at his best in a rotation where he's getting 50-60% of the backfield snaps. Just my thoughts...

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Ryan Graham's picture

March 21, 2017 at 04:15 pm

I agree entirely. I don't know that free agency is necessary, as it would be far more expensive and short term. But I don't know that it's necessary to draft 2 running backs per say, but to draft one and then look into some UDFAs available would be sufficient. Hypothetically you draft Brian Hill. You'd be looking at a depth chart of Ty and Brian as they would split time more or less, and then Ripkowski and one of those undrafted rookies. That to me is fine and would provide an opportunity to address more needs in the draft.

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 21, 2017 at 08:50 am

I'm not going to say you're wrong about Montgomery but the amount of times he came off the field dinged, in his small sample size of 77 carries, lends a bit of credence that he won't last a season at 15 + carries a game. I'm not sure he knows how or could be able to avoid the unnecessary hits regardless of his body structure. : )

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7th Rounder's picture

March 21, 2017 at 09:02 am

Durability is my main concern with Ty. He's going to be better than last year at RB but from what I've seen he is not going to remain healthy enough to be the full time answer at RB. If his pass protection improves he will be the perfect 3rd down back.

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NMPF's picture

March 21, 2017 at 09:30 am

75% of ALL NFL RB's missed time during the 2016 NFL season. Hardly think this is a Packer problem. Stats show you have a 1 in 4 chance a running back will hold up the entire season.

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 21, 2017 at 08:35 am

I was not initially on the Monty bandwagon, but he won me over. And I laughed when the talking heads spouted off about the Packers missing Kuhn. Ripkowski was good for 4.4 ypc last year. Kuhn had 2.1 for the Saints, and a career average of 3.0. Most teams don't even carry a FB, so let's get the most out of him. With two premier tight ends available I expect the ball to be flung around more, not less. I really don't think the Packers need to do much more than add depth at RB this year, assuming Ripkowski is given a larger role.

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Finwiz's picture

March 21, 2017 at 09:34 am

Yes, and Ripkowski also put the ball on the ground at a critical time in the playoffs, didn't he?

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croatpackfan's picture

March 21, 2017 at 09:45 am

This is not fair comment!

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Finwiz's picture

March 21, 2017 at 09:59 am

2 less yards and both hands around the ball would have been preferable in that situation. What's unfair about that? They liked Kuhn because he was reliable, not explosive. It's all they need out of the fullback position.

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 21, 2017 at 01:42 pm

You're going to state/imply that Ripkowski is not reliable after one career fumble? Really?

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Ryan Graham's picture

March 21, 2017 at 04:20 pm

Yeah that's a cheap shot, he had demonstrated how reliable and effective he could be a number of times before then. To make a critical claim like that forgetting the rest of his 4-6 yard carries is a bit unfair. Not gonna call him "the answer" but he is a viable option if need be.

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croatpackfan's picture

March 21, 2017 at 09:47 am

You need to have legit RB option to make commitment from opponent D in their try to stop run. Packers need true running game, not mannequin on the field!

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Matt Gonzales's picture

March 21, 2017 at 09:00 am

Pass catcher that can also run as your main RB? Sounds a lot like New England. I guess TT does read these comments.

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dobber's picture

March 21, 2017 at 09:38 am

Legarrette Blount? Not a pass-catcher...

If there's anything that we learned from New England over the years, it's that the only constant in their offense is Tom Brady. Beyond that, anyone can be emphasized any given week. Even Gronk, if he's healthy...

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Matt Gonzales's picture

March 21, 2017 at 11:11 am

I actually meant Lewis and White. Blount gets more carries when they go into their power football mode, but otherwise tends to take the role just of the short yardage hammer or clock killer.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

March 21, 2017 at 09:40 am

I loved Ty from the get go, only thing is I saw Ty got hammered pretty good and seemed he got hurt often. Now yes other RB get hurt to but I think they need a big rock to take the hits, now Rip can do that he showed runs I had no clue he had in him.

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Three and Out's picture

March 21, 2017 at 09:53 am

This is exactly why the Packers AND their fans should not be stressing about the running back position. Ty is solid at every aspect of the position and TT and MM know that, which is why he is the #1. They'll draft or pick up and good 3rd running back and everything is going to be good. The sky is not falling just because the Packers didn't resign a running back who would​ clearly rather be an offensive lineman.

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Ryan Graham's picture

March 21, 2017 at 12:12 pm

We all know the Packers run a west coast offense. He has excellent ball skills, but he will only be getting 20 touches (rushing and recieving) 9/10 times. He's gonna be pass blocking almost half the time. He really needs to improve at that aspect, not to say he won't by any means. But that's gonna be a long uphill battle, longer than most than most anticipate. A little different blocking corners or even safeties than a blitzing linebacker.

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Ryan Graham's picture

March 21, 2017 at 12:01 pm

I love Ty. I liked him at stanford, I was really excited to see him as a Packer out of the draft. He's a speedy solid guy that's deceivingly strong. If I had to guess he's pound for pound one of the strongest guys on the team. I think he's got all the intangibles as not only a running back, but just a true football player. I particularly liked his transition last year to running back to get him involved in the offense more.

My biggest concern, and where we will miss Eddie the most, is pass blocking. That's where the RB position is used half the time in our offense. It won't be used as much if MM adopts the two TE set more often, but it will still be essential to 3 wideout sets with Martellus in the slot or at the end of the line. And you can take it to the bank that will be their primary package.

As strong as Montgomery is, he comes in a smaller frame even at 6'2" and he's easily abused by linebackers in pass blocking. I do see him in a platoon with a bigger back, and with some improvement in pass blocking I could see him taking that position over. But not until then. In the end I believe he is the future of the Packers.

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stockholder's picture

March 21, 2017 at 12:51 pm

TT knows he needs better. With both TEs that were signed. The RB position is going to change. You do have to worry about Monty getting banged up. We all know his ankle took longer to heal. And he still does not look like he can take a head shot. He nearly fumbled in a critical situation like Rip. So forget the 3 down back stuff. (He's situational!) Rip will still be your bruiser. Lacy was a flop. (No Speed and still got stuffed.) Starks lost it. I'm looking for a trade-up to get a RB. in rd. 3. Perine and Foreman each could replace Lacy. And I still believe TT takes McCafferey at #29.

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Ryan Graham's picture

March 21, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Well I'll tell you, if he takes McCaffrey you can bet he's not taking Perine or Foreman. If he were to use, and I almost want to say throw away, 2 of his first 3 draft picks on a realtively secondary position in their scheme, I will be outraged considering the other talents available and needs of the team.

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stockholder's picture

March 21, 2017 at 04:02 pm

I don't think he'll trade any 1,2,3. It will be the 4th, 5th, 5th comp this year. Perine is going to be a star. He stood out and caught at the combine. Foreman is the next Lacy. (If GB tries for him) Scouts have him more the FB type. So I see one (McCafferey) early, and "tough" (perine or Foreman) guy late. But" if " McCafferey is off the board. As far as CB. TT must get ahead of Dallas. They have the same needs. That's if you want the BPA. Regardless Dallas could be a Pain for TT. Because everyone wants Watt now. And That could mess up TTs later picks. ( beating dallas to a CB/S/DE. ) And WILLIS IS GETTING A LOT OF ATTENTION.

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NickPerry's picture

March 22, 2017 at 05:44 am

You bring up a good point, they both need CB and pass rushers. With that said Dallas has lost pretty much every starter in the secondary so safety is just as big of need for Dallas as the other 2 positions. They also just might draft Witten's replacement early this year with this crop of TE's so there's that too. With this draft through the Packers should still find a CB and OLB early.

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Lphill's picture

March 21, 2017 at 01:38 pm

3 rd and 1 , Ripkowski is the guy , Lacy was stuffed a lot on short yard plays but those stupid toss plays might have had something to do with it, there was no reason in the world for Lacy to be running sideways.

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NickPerry's picture

March 22, 2017 at 07:07 am

Can I give you 10 thumbs up for this comment. It's 3rd and 1 so lets toss it to the guy who is a little faster than D-Lineman and get him running sideways. #DriveKiller

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marpag1's picture

March 21, 2017 at 02:30 pm

Last year, Montgomery proved that he is a better runner than I expected him to be. He did NOT prove that he "is obviously an excellent receiver" - and that's regardless of whether you mean split out wide or out of the backfield.

People assume that he must be an excellent pass-catching RB because he used to be a wideout. But catching passes out of the backfield is a totally different thing than lining up as a WR. Even if Monty had already proven to be "excellent" when lined up wide (which he certainly hasn't), it would NOT mean that he must certainly be excellent at catching passes as a RB.

Last year there were 58 RBs who averaged more than one reception per game. Out of those 58, Montgomery's yardage per catch ranked 28th (7.9 yards). That's just about perfectly average. His catch percentage (catches per target) was only marginally better. He was 22nd out of 58 at 78.6%. Almost 40% of RBs caught the ball better than that. He was 31 out of 58 in yards after the catch (7.7 per). He had zero catches of 25 yards or more. (For comparison, 37 of 58 players had one or more, 17 had two or more, 10 had three or more, 2 had four, 1 had five and 2 had six). He scored no receiving TDs.

I hope Montgomery might become an excellent receiver out of the backfield. I haven't seen it yet.

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 21, 2017 at 03:38 pm

I get what marpag1 is saying - don't assume he can catch out of the backfield just because he was a WR. By the same token some seem obsessed with the assumption that he isn't a real RB because he used to be a WR. It's all a bit ridiculous. Think back to when you played football folks. We all knew who the superior athletes were on our teams, and we all knew that those guys could usually play half the positions on the field better than the guy who had that starting job. Guess what, most of those guys played QB in high school, got recruited to college, and then groomed to play some other position - everything from safety to TE to LT. So please, don't tell me a talented guy can't shift between WR and RB, especially when he has Montgomery's body type.

Hell, he outweighed McCaffery by at least a dozen pounds last season, and look at all the people here clamoring for Green Bay to pick that guy as their RB. Yelling for a 202 lb. back while arguing that a 215 lb. guy can't be a RB makes zero sense. Apologies to those of you not holding both opinions - it's just an example of absurdity.

I want to throw this out too: in today's NFL there are less than 1/2 dozen "3 down backs" if by that you mean a RB who is going to be in on 80%+ of the offensive plays. This is the era of runningback by committee. Monty doesn't have to be a three-down back. He doesn't have to get more than 15 carries.

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Dzehren's picture

March 22, 2017 at 06:38 pm

Yes sir- GB only ran the ball like 366 times in'16
4th lowest in the NFL

Making your point

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Tundraboy's picture

March 22, 2017 at 07:38 am

Some obvious thoughts.

Doesn't have to be a 3 down back in a McCarthy offense.

We need a reliable RB for balance and the likelihood Monty could be injured to some degree over course of season and as added insurance if he misses a game.

His pass catching abilities as RB is still in question but how many chances did or will MM give him.

As for the latter and as it was with Lacy I want to see a lot more of that!

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Dzehren's picture

March 22, 2017 at 06:25 pm

Not buying it. Love #88

Monty is an excellent role player, team player, and a future/ high potential (limited snaps Marpag- like you analysis) multi purpose back that all 32 NFL teams wish they had on their team.

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Dzehren's picture

March 22, 2017 at 06:27 pm

Not buyin the 3 down back I mean

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