The Detroit Lions made what some would typify as a bold move, securing an agreement with running back David Montgomery in free agency.
Instead of bringing back Jamaal Williams, the Lions moved on Montgomery, formally of the Chicago Bears. The running back has enjoyed success in the Windy City, and offers Detroit something new for their offense in terms of the wiggle he brings in the open field.
As Brett Whitefield quickly pointed out after news of the deal had leaked, Montgomery was tied for the top missed tackle rate last season, while Williams ranked near the bottom of the league in the same category.
“Per Fantasy Pts Data, new Lions RB David Montgomery was tied for the highest forced missed tackle rate among all backs with 125+ carries.(.31). t1. David Montgomery – 0.31
t1. Nick Chubb – 0.31. For comparison sake, Jamaal Williams ranked near the bottom with a mark of 0.12,” Whitefield wrote in a series of tweets.
Why is this notable for Detroit? In listening to offensive coordinator Ben Johnson this offseason, a key goal for the team was finding a way to break more tackles and be a bit more explosive in the run game.
As the Twitter account Lions Fan Report explained, enter Montgomery, who has forced 185 missed tackles since he came into the league, which is a top-five total in the entire NFL.
“Ben Johnson mentioned how the offense could’ve had more rushing yards had they broken more tackles. Since entering the league, Montgomery has forced 185 missed tackles (fifth in the NFL),” the site tweeted.
It’s clear what the Lions liked about Montgomery. While Williams is dependable and a great leader, he is a straight-line runner that is also approaching 30 years old. Montgomery is younger, and has a bit more wiggle inside and outside the tackle box to add a more explosive element to the Detroit offense.
Montgomery has been dominant in a short time with the Bears, and now he will get a chance to do even more with a Lions’ offensive line that is near the top of the NFL and has a bright future.
David Montgomery’s Stats & Highlights
After being drafted into the league in 2019 as a third-round pick out of Iowa State, Montgomery wasted no time making a major impact for Chicago’s offense.
As a rookie, Montgomery rushed for 889 yards and six touchdowns while adding 185 yards and one touchdown through the air. He would go on to have 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020, chipping in seven more scores in 2021.
In total, Montgomery has put up 3,609 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns, while adding 1,240 yards and four touchdowns through the air. He gives a team some solid pass catching as well as running.
David Montgomery Will Boost Lions Rush Offense
The Lions are only a few years removed from struggling to sustain a 100 yard rusher in a game, but as their offensive line has improved and their running game has as well, things have turned around in a hurry.
During the 2022 season, the Lions ran the ball well and finished as a top 11 unit in the league. Detroit churned out a total of 2,179 yards and nearly 128.2 yards per-game on average. They went for about 4.5 yards per-carry, and scored a gaudy 23 touchdowns, most of which were added by Jamaal Williams, who had 17 scores.
Interestingly enough, Montgomery himself was part of a Chicago offense which had the best rush offense in the league during 2022. The Bears finished first, rushing for 3,014 yards and 5.4 yards per-carry average. Lots of that had to do with Justin Fields, but Montgomery was a big part of their success.
Adding him to an already solid Lions offense that ranked top-four in the league should figure to help Detroit in a big way, and could give the Lions more of the explosion they seemed to lack at times during the 2022 season.