The guys that are currently in charge of molding the Green Bay Packers’ inexperienced running backs are an interesting lot.
Two men are being charged with turning Ty Montgomery and a bunch of rookies into a serviceable rushing crew. Yes, we’re leaving out fullbacks for the purpose of this discussion.
Aaron Ripkowski isn’t going to lead the Packers in rushing in 2017.
Montgomery is entering his first full season as a running back. We know he can run and catch, but his inexperience as a blocker kept him off the field for too many snaps in 2016. One focus of this offseason was trying to remedy that.
Behind Montgomery are three rookie draft picks.
Who’s being tasked with whipping these guys into shape? Let’s start with the former player.
You may not recall this, but Jackson was actually the leading rusher on the Packers’ last Super Bowl team. Of course, he only had 703 yards and averaged a measly 3.7 yards per carry. Jackson was a second-round pick out of Nebraska in 2007 and some might say he was a bust.
His Packers’ career lasted four years, he rushed for a total of 1,329 yards and seven touchdowns. He played one more year with Cleveland and then his playing career was over.
Jackson is now a coaching intern with the Packers. You might wonder what qualifies a guy with no coaching background and very little NFL rushing success to be in that position.
Although not much of rusher, Jackson was a decent receiver (43 for 342 in 2010) and was said to be one of the best blockers the team has had at the position in the McCarthy era. The latter obviously has its value for all the guys and the former will surely have value for some of the rookies.
Sirmans is the Packers’ actual running backs coach. He was hired prior to the 2016 season after St. Louis canned their entire offensive staff.
Although he was a running back in college (Maine), unlike Jackson, he never played in the pros. Sirmans went directly into coaching instead. So what does a guy who never played in the pros know about teaching pros how to be great running backs?
We don’t know Sirmans’ recipe, but we do know this. Prior to joining the Packers he had great success with rookies backs.
In 2015, he coached Todd Gurley, who ran for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games. If you play fantasy football or live on the west coast, you know what Gurley did last year: 885 and six in 16 games, with a 3.2 yard average.
In 2014, Sirmans got a team-high 765 yards out of rookie Tre Mason in 12 games. Mason is now out of the league.
In 2013, he got 973 yards and seven touchdowns out of rookie Zac Stacy in 14 games. Stacy now is also out of the league.
This guy can seemingly turn nothing into something, which is kind of what he’ll have to do with the Packers this year.
In addition to the three rookies the Packers drafted, Montgomery is much like a rookie, as he hasn’t played the position for even a full year yet.
We have high hopes for Montgomery. We’ll see about the rest, but they seemingly couldn’t be in better hands.