Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
RB Ty Montgomery, who signed a one-year deal with the Jets earlier this week, showed promise in his first few years with the Packers, but fell out of favour last year and ended up being traded to Baltimore. What could the former third-round pick bring to the table with the Jets and how will he complement Le'Veon Bell?
Montgomery is an interesting player who was drafted as a wide receiver but was forced into a position change in 2016 due to injuries. He handled the change so impressively that the Packers decided to make the move permanent in 2017. This wasn't as outlandish as it perhaps seemed at the time, as Montgomery had played running back in high school and even carried 39 times in college -- including 23 in his senior year.
With his experience at wide receiver and his ability to also return kick-offs, Montgomery is regarded as a versatile triple-threat option. On a team that already has a stable of versatile backs, he could fit in well.
As a runner, he had success in the Packers' zone-blocking scheme, so he'll be comfortable within Frank Pollack's new system with the Jets. Montgomery is decisive when there's an open running lane and can elude tacklers at the second level to break some decent gains. He also exhibits patience, with some of his highlights reminiscent of Bell's own style. This could be a product of his offseason work with Rischad Whitfield -- a running backs coach nicknamed "The Footwork King" who has also worked with Bell.
Bell can already do it all, and is bigger and more athletic than Montgomery, so there's essentially nothing Montgomery can provide that Bell doesn't do better. However, Montgomery can contribute by handling some of the workload and keeping Bell fresh throughout the season. Montgomery might not be equipped to handle a starter's workload, as he's had some durability issues. He's never carried 20 times in an NFL game and only has only had more than 10 carries three times. But he could be ideal as a reserve.
With his experience as a wide receiver, Montgomery is obviously also comfortable moving into the slot or out wide and running routes. However, this aspect of his game may be overstated. Even when he was playing as a full-time wide receiver, he was rarely any kind of downfield threat at the NFL level.
Nevertheless, the option to carry one less receiver on the 53-man roster or active list on gameday is attractive from a roster management perspective.
While Montgomery's ability to contribute in the passing game is useful, it doesn't really set him apart from the players he's competing with as both Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon have shown some route running and pass-catching abilities in college and in flashes with the Jets. Those two are probably more comfortable with blitz pick-up assignments in the backfield than Montgomery too, although this is an aspect he reportedly has worked hard at.
What sets Montgomery apart from McGuire and Cannon in their careers so far is his yards per carry average. Montgomery has averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his career, while Cannon averaged just 3.0 in his rookie year and McGuire has averaged 3.3 in his rookie year.
Again, though, the difference perhaps isn't as pronounced as the numbers would suggest. Montgomery got the benefit of running out of spread formations with teams reluctant to stack the box against Aaron Rodgers. There was also an initial element of surprise because teams hadn't necessarily planned for him to be lined up in the backfield and his averages have dropped since he averaged nearly six yards per carry in 2016.
Conversely, Cannon and McGuire got most of their carries last year in the second half of the season when the Jets offensive line was downgraded at two positions with Spencer Long replacing James Carpenter at left guard and Jonotthan Harrison stepping in at center for Long. Behind such poor run blocking and with less of a threat from the passing game, it's not surprising the running numbers fell off after midseason.
Montgomery has only been given a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum, so this doesn't necessarily mean the team has given up on the idea or McGuire or Cannon beating him out. The Jets made a similar move for Thomas Rawls last year and he failed to make the roster, so Montgomery will need to stay healthy and play well to secure his spot.
However, Montgomery's skill-set definitely makes him a good fit among this stable of backs and his experience and body of work make him a strong candidate to earn the number two role and contribute well.