Film Review: Breaking down new Lions RB David Montgomery

In a shocking turn of events, the Detroit Lions signed running back David Montgomery on Tuesday. While many Lions fans, myself included, thought that running back Jamaal Williams would be back with the team, they went in a different direction. For this one, they go to Chicago to sign a player they’re quite familiar with in David Montgomery.

Throughout his four-year career, Montgomery has ran for 3,609 yards on 915 carries and 26 touchdowns. In comparison, Jamaal Williams has ran for 3,652 yards on 915 carries and 30 touchdowns during his six-year career in the NFL. Oddly enough, they have the same number of carries in their careers while entering the 2023 season.

While plenty of Lions fans will be disappointed with the fact that Jamaal Williams signed a three-year contract with the New Orleans Saints worth a total of $12 million dollars. I can assure you that it looks like the Lions are getting an upgrade at the position. Despite giving David Montgomery a three-year deal worth $18 million dollars, he seems to be worth the higher price tag. Let’s jump into some tape and look as to why the 25-year old running back from Iowa State upgrades the Detroit Lions backfield!

Eyes downfield and terrific cut 

One of the first things I noticed to the skill-set of David Montgomery is how he’s also looking downfield. Constantly processing and preparing for his next move, Montgomery can make defenders miss consistently 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 with 0.31. The player he was tied with was Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns.

As you watch the play above, you can see how Montgomery forces a missed tackle with a jump cut. Once he gets the ball in his hands off the toss, his eyes are downfield and he calculates what he’s going to do one-on-one with the defender. Making that cut was the right choice but don’t just think he’s a one-dimensional back. He can win a variety of ways.

Spinning and keeping the feet moving

One of the keys for running backs is to always keep their feet moving. Active feet keep you alive and that’s the case for Montgomery. He’s consistently churning out yards due to his strong and flexible lower half. Per PFF, he averaged 2.90 yards after contact last season. That is right around the ranks of 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 multiple ways. From flashing good lateral movement skills to jump cutting or running through arm tackles. Looking at the play above, you’ll see how he initially spins to get away from an edge rusher crashing down inside. As he gets trapped in a pile, he keeps his feet moving and ends up spinning again before finding himself downfield with additional yardage. I’m sure these types of runs are what caught the eyes of the Lions front office.

Following his blocks 

Whether it’s split-zone or following behind pulling guards, Montgomery is patient while letting his blocks develop and following behind them. Even if he doesn’t show a ton of breakaway speed, the patience gives him time to gain additional yardage.

Watching the play above, you’ll watch Montgomery follow behind two pulling guards. He runs behind a guard while advancing to the 2nd level. In the process, you’ll see him shrug off an arm tackle to gain additional yardage. Through the three games I watched of him, there was consistency across the board with these types of run.

Overall thoughts and Lions fit 

After watching three games (Atlanta, Green Bay and New England), I’m convinced that the Lions made the right decision by adding David Montgomery. Getting a younger back was important for Detroit and it shows with their willingness to pay more while letting a familiar face walk for less.

In my review of the three games, it’s evident that David Montgomery runs with more juice than Jamaal Williams. There’s more fluidity with the lower body of Montgomery. When watching him run the football, it feels like there’s more conviction and violence.

Now that’s with all due respect to Jamaal because he’s a downhill bruiser in his own right. But Detroit needed something more than that. Fortunately, they’ll get that with Montgomery. In addition to his rushing totals, he had 34 receptions for 316 yards and a touchdown for the Bears last season.

Montgomery runs just as efficiently outside of the tackle box and in the open field than he does between the 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 that can carry the load and keep defenses honest. That should only help the Lions continue to succeed with play-action passes.

The pairing of Montgomery and Swift will 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