Do the Green Bay Packers have a running back competition?
On the facade, the answer is no. Ty Montgomery is entrenched as the No. 1 running back. He’s a dynamic rusher and receiver… who isn’t very good at pass protection.
That limited Montgomery’s PT in 2016, despite the gaudy 5.9 per carry average. And what have we seen develop this week? Williams is getting reps with the No. 1 offense all of a sudden.
That isn’t to say he’s getting the majority of the reps — he isn’t. However, the coaching staff has noted that Williams is a good pass blocker. That’s what derailed Montgomery from being a three-down back in 2016 and it legitimately looks like it could derail him again in that quest this year.
In reality, that wouldn’t be a huge surprise. Ty Montgomery has been a running back for less than a year. He’s been asked to pass block for less than a year.
The latest development, with Williams’ status, appears to suggest one of three things.
- The Packers are putting Montgomery on notice and/or trying to push him
- Williams will be getting playing time regardless
- Or the Packers have legitimate doubts about Montgomery being a true No. 1
My current assumption is No. 2.
Even when Eddie Lacy was at his best, the Packers still slowed his roll with James Starks from time to time. Why would Mike McCarthy change up his A-1 rushing system now?
What’s perhaps more intriguing is this. Running backs coach Ben Sirmans has had success with all kinds of rookie running backs before, some of whom weren’t even any good.
- 2015: Todd Gurley — 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games
- 2014: Tre Mason — 765 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games
- 2013: Zac Stacy — 973 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games
If you could pick either of those last two guys out of a lineup, you deserve a medal. Gurley was a first-round pick, but he was also garbage after Sirmans left. Gurley ran for 885 and six touchdowns in 2016, while averaging an embarrassing 3.2 yards per carry.
We wouldn’t suggest Williams will end up being a starter. We also wouldn’t suggest he should end up being a starter.
The bottom line is Montgomery needs to pull the pass pro together.
But if it so happened that Williams was the guy, the tools for success are there.