The Detroit Lions added to their offense in a big way for the 2023 season with the signing of running back David Montgomery, and that move could pay off for the player and the team.
Montgomery has been brought in to better a group which was already solid during the 2022 season, rushing for 2,179 yards, nearly 128.2 yards per-game on average and 23 touchdowns. On paper, that seems like a strength. However, the Lions saw the chance to upgrade with Montgomery and they jumped at it.
This coming season, how could Montgomery be expected to show at running back for the team? After the free agency market has settled, a fresh look at how runners will fit their new teams has been provided.
Kevin Patra at NFL.com made a prediction for how the season is going to go, and as he said, he believes that Montgomery is going to exceed his 2022 production in 2023 when getting the benefit of running with the Lions behind a solid offensive line.
“With an exponentially better offensive line than he galloped behind in Chicago, Montgomery has the chance to get back to the 1,000-yard plateau. He might not match the 17 TDs Williams put up in Detroit a year ago, but he can offer more playmaking between the 20s. In addition, Montgomery offers more by way of the passing game and should see that phase of his game increase,” Patra wrote in the piece.
Last season with the Chicago Bears, Montgomery had a very consistent season, rushing for 801 yards and five touchdowns, while hauling in 34 passes for 316 yards and one touchdown. In his four-year career, Montgomery has always rushed for between 800-1,070 yards a season.
That kind of consistency points to the type of player who will be able to excel given a bigger share of the offense in Detroit. Now, Montgomery can slot in with an explosive offense that can give him more chances to make plays through the air and on the ground.
As he transitions to Detroit, many now believe he will be primed to make an even bigger statistical impact on the league.
Jamaal Williams Predicted for Worse 2023 Season
On the flip side from Montgomery is the back he will replace in Detroit in Williams. By going to the New Orleans Saints and leaving the Lions, did he insure a bright statistical future in 2023?
Not exactly according to Patra’s analysis.
When analyzing Williams and his new situation, Patra wrote that he believes the 2023 season will play out worse for the running back when he transitions to the Saints. The reason? It’s hard for Patra to imagine another career year playing out for the running back as happened in 2022.
“Williams is undoubtedly an upgrade over Mark Ingram for New Orleans. But I don’t see the 28-year-old repeating his career year from 2022. His output was 465 yards more than his previous high, and the league-leading 17 TDs blasted past his previous high of four,” he wrote in the piece.
Williams found a home in Detroit the last two seasons, rushing for a total of 1,667 yards and 20 total touchdowns from 2021-2022 while also becoming one of the team’s top culture fits. In spite of making history by passing Barry Sanders for the most rushing touchdowns in a single season by a running back in 2022 with 17 scores, Williams departed.
Upon his exit, Williams called out the Lions for their contract offer, stating he believed it was “disrespectful.” In the end, it was revealed that Williams may have had the same offer to return to the Lions that Montgomery signed, a three-year, $18 million dollar deal.
Either way, the Lions moved on and have Montgomery and his production to look forward to now.
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 an impact for Chicago which has proven him as a legitimate threat in the NFL.
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.
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.
Coming to the Lions, with Williams departing, Montgomery will have a big chance to prove he can be a feature back. Early on, it looks as if some of the early projections feel he will reach that goal.