Dealing with the Packers’ Running Back Situation

Across the duration of the 2017 regular season, the Green Bay Packers, as a team, rushed for 1,724 yards on 386 carries, equaling out to 4.5 yards per carry. While this stat is not awful considering the amount of fluctuation in the backfield throughout the year, the NFL’s rushing leader Todd Gurley from the Rams ran for 1,406 yards… by himself.

Green Bay attempted to address the tailback situation in the draft, by taking three backs. Jamaal Williams was the first runner taken for the Packers, and his season amounted to decent success, contributing 818 total yards but only six touchdowns. Once he took over after a slew of injuries, he looked to be the most polished back in Green Bay’s stable.

In the fifth round, the Packers selected Aaron Jones, who earned 470 total yards and four touchdowns. His breakout game came in his first start, where he torched the Cowboys for 125 yards and a touchdown. Jones seems to be more one-dimensional in nature, as he had a minuscule impact in the passing game.

The third and final back that was drafted last year, Devante Mays, seems to have developed fumble-itis. In only four carries, he had one yard and two fumbles. 50 percent of his touches came by also putting the pigskin on the field𑁋not good odds. While he has potential and looked good when he was at Utah State, he has a long way to go before he can crack the two-deep at tailback.

Couple those somewhat disappointing stats with the uncertain health of Ty Montgomery, and there is a lot that needs to be sorted through for the 2018 version of Green Bay’s backfield.

In Montgomery’s last full season in 2016, he rushed for 457 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games, including six starts. Just by doing the eye test in the backfield, you would almost have to consider this to be the pecking order for 2018:

 

  1. Jamaal Williams
  2. Ty Montgomery
  3. Aaron Jones
  4. Devante Mays

 

However, this order should change, especially due to the impending wide receiver decisions that need to be made this offseason. Questions surrounding Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson coming back have been circling ever since the season ended for the Packers, and these won’t go away until a decision is made.

If the coaching staff was to move Montgomery back to wideout after converting him to running back, there could be an alteration in play types for the offense.

Similar to how the Rams (again with the reference) use their speedster Tavon Austin, we could use Montgomery. Even though his speed doesn’t rival that of Austin, the misdirection plays, end-arounds, jet sweeps, and shovel passes would be able to open up the offense more than it is already. Plus, hopefully, these plays would be more successful than this year when they were run.

This also could act as a stop-gap for a drafted receiver if a receiver were to be let go or traded. It would make the most sense to move on from Cobb if Montgomery was to be moved back outside as well, as Montgomery would open up the offense more from the slot than outside.

The flexibility the team has going into the offseason is endless, and with new coaches and management, the outlook is bright for the cheeseheads. If any of this comes to fruition, only time will tell.  

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13 thoughts on “Dealing with the Packers’ Running Back Situation

  1. I think it is time for Nelson to play the slot at this point in his career and find a replacement on the outside and Montgomery lacks talent to play on the outside.

    I think they need the outside replacement to come from FA or the draft.

    1. I agree with you. Nelson in slot maybe. Speed and quickness worries me though. Need a quick, precise route slot receiver. Ty to receiver? Again speed not there to instill fear. So, I again agree with you you on FA or draft!

  2. This article needs to be re-written, premise is faulty. 4.5 yards per carry is an excellent clip for any back and any team. In fact, 4.5 yards puts the Pack tied for 3rd in the league, with only two teams averaging more (both 4.7). 4.5 is also higher than…the Rams…4.3 yards per carry. Reality is Pack running game took a huge step this year, and stable of backs looks great for next year. Please step up quality of articles, thanks.

  3. Aaron Jones is clearly the best pure running back on the roster. My concerns on him are his knees, ended up getting injuries late which didn’t help the team. Williams, I just don’t see the big play capability, more of a bigger power back, like a very poor mans Eddie Lacy. Not sure if he’ll continue to develop, or is what he is. Ty Montgomery at tail back is Semi-Over IMO, another player who just can’t stay available, dudes been hurt off and on, most of his career in Green Bay. IMO we should keep Jones and Williams, and draft another decent, even consider getting a decent back via trade or UFA. Really not in love with any of them. The closest thing to big play capability is clearly Aaron Jones, and he’s already showing signs of not being durable or having the NFL body.

    1. Williams looked good on the long screen pass TD he had I think against the Steelers. He has good straight line speed but none of the elusiveness of Jones. Jones downside is his size in blocking. He definitely has the moves, quickness and speed to run the ball and break big runs.

      1. Both backs are very good in certain situations for sure. Problem is when they’re in the game the defenses can narrow down the schemes as what the Pack will do, especially with MM. Predictable!! We need a back with speed, quickness, good hands, blocker, and much more versatile. Draft? Someone has to be out there like a Kamura!

  4. Ty Montgomery CAN NOT be counted on to be a number 1 RB. He has talent and running back ability except for durability. Since coming to the Packers he’s always been getting hurt. Sometimes he misses a series, quarter , half or multiple games. He’s always hobbling off limping on a leg and missing time. I wish it wasn’t so but it is. He’s been this way for 3 years and probably won’t change. He needs to be moved back to WR. He can still run a sweep or shift into the backfield once in a while but he can’t handle that workload full time or even splitting time in a two back system. That leaves Williams and Jones. Williams is bigger and can block better in pass protection and outside of a few drops in the last game has shown ability to catch the ball and straight line speed on screen passes. He’s a hard runner but not very elusive or reading his blocks. Jones by far has the most running talent of the backs they have. He has elusive quickness and cutting ability. He has good speed as well. His problem is he’s small and not very effective as a blocker picking up blitzes. He has the abilities that work great for screen passes and swing passes too if being covered by a linebacker. Mayes hasn’t shown anything in the regular season to get excited about. He has the size to be a good blocker but he needs to compete to even make the team next year. The Packers need to draft or bring into camp some more RBs to compete with Williams and Jones.

  5. Aaron Jones is better than Williams.
    Nelson is old washed up and not worth 5 million a season. Cobb is not worth 13 million and should take a paycut down to 6. Bulaga isn’t worth the money and he’s getting old with now two major surgeries to his knees. Spriggs once was thought to take bulagas job but he has had 2 surgeries in as many years. Maybe another bust! The offense needs to find a RT, need to start grooming a RG to take over for Jahri Evans when he decides to retire. The need is also at WR to pair up with Adams… James Washington of Oklahoma state would fit nice, another TE that can stretch the field like Finley use to. So that’s a RG,RT, WR & TE.

    1. Agree with you. Restructure or release Buluga, Mathhews, Cobb, Nelson. Springs? Training camp decision? Receiver to complement Adams, TE with size and speed, two beast edge rushers will make d-backs better. Draft D-backs in later rounds or FA for more competition!! Pentine will make the D better for sure I feel.

    2. Dude u all are something else by far Williams was the best back of all he kept us in games against good run defenses powered his way to many first downs and stayed on the field unlike others on the team with another year on the ground he will be a huge impact this comeing year i liked jones hes fast and shifty i think williams and montogomery would be a stable one two punch who can wear ds out put in jones in the 4th with his speed and a wore out defense now that will be fun to watch…

    3. I dont understand why people always use Finley as an example he was good more like ok but that dude dropped more passes then Bennet. Then everytime their was a first down he made he would act as if he scored a td..I dont know, sucks what happend to him but we need one of them fast college tightends with height and size theyres a few midround tight ends with them capabilities…Everyone who wants to get rid of Nelson he was leading in tds before our qb went down our back up just sucked…Lower his and Cobbs and Matthews pay or stretch it out i want all 3 back…

      1. Finley did drop passes. But what you don’t understand is that he caught more passes than he dropped. He had more big plays than bad. The guy for being 6-4 at 260 was fast. Do you understand the job he did when he stretched the defense out? Do you understand the concept Robert? In case you didn’t…. A defense is more vulnerable when it gets loosened up. It’s called creating space for more one on one. That’s why you seen the packers passing torch defenses that super bowl season

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