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.
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.
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.
Unless Williams can show the ability to be a consistently effective runner at the next level, his ability to pass protect will defeat the purpose, as his mere presence on the field will signify to an opposing defense that the Packers are more likely to pass instead of run.
Do not pay that much attention to the Rams. I know they had a rookie QB start some games last year along with Case Keenum. In 2015 Sirmans last year with the Rams, the Rams gave up 18 sacks, I think fewest in the NFL. Last year the Rams gave up 49 sacks, 31st worst in the NFL. Not sure Sirmans ability to keep RBs focused on pass pro had anything to do with the big change. I do know the Rams were a dysfunctional team last year vs their normal mediocre ability. It may just show what happens to a teams ability to protect the QB when the pass or run game have weaknesses and the other teams defense knows it.
I don’t see Williams coming in on passing downs if he is best in pass pro is a real key for a defense. Most teams based on down and distance, and other keys already know that there is a high percentage for a pass. Look at last year with Rip. It would be ideal if all of the RBs can function well in Pass pro, however one or two are going to stand out, good or bad, hopefully good and it will show as the season progresses.