The Packers turned their season around on a Monday Night in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles. They beat the Eagles, put together a six-game winning streak, and captured another NFC North crown.
While the six-game winning streak looked good heading into the playoffs, everyone knew this wasn’t the typical Packers’ team. On defense, the secondary was in shambles, giving up big play after big play, while the offense was without running back Eddie Lacy due to an ankle injury.
With Lacy on injured reserve, Green Bay leaned on running back by committee, which featured Knile Davis, Don Jackson, Christine Michael, James Starks, fullback Aaron Ripkowski, and former wide receiver Ty Montgomery.
Out of all the possible solutions to the Packers’ anemic running game, Montgomery proved to be the savior, which seemed laughable at first thought.
Coming into the NFL, Montgomery was known as a big-time playmaker at Stanford. Using his speed, Montgomery was not only a receiving threat but could change the game with his return skills.
Over his four-year career at Stanford, Montgomery racked up 2,125 yards on 172 receptions and caught 15 touchdowns. He also had 339 rushing yards and five special teams touchdowns (3 kick return, 2 punt return).
Despite his big play ability, the question remained about how would his skills transfer over to the NFL. Montgomery ended up in a pretty good spot as the Packers drafted him with the 94th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Four years earlier, Green Bay drafted a player in the second round, who had similar skills like Montgomery and that was Randall Cobb. At Kentucky, Cobb was a factor both in the receiving and running game. He amassed over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in both his sophomore and junior seasons.
Cobb has become a good complementary wide receiver to Jordy Nelson, giving Aaron Rodgers another reliable target. With those two guys plus Davante Adams and James Jones, Montgomery did not have to be a playmaker right away.
However, his rookie season did not go well as he only played in six games due to an ankle injury. Montgomery finished his rookie year with 15 receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
Nevertheless, heading into last season, Montgomery had a lot to prove if he wanted to be a key player in the Packers’ offense. But no one knew it would come in the form of a running back.
Montgomery stepped up when the Packers needed him the most in the backfield. The converted wide receiver led Green Bay in rushing yards with 457 on 77 carries and three touchdowns. He also averaged 5.9 yards per carry which was the highest in the NFL among running backs with at least 75 carries.
Despite having pedestrian rushing numbers for most of the season, Montgomery would have the best game of his career in Week 15 against the Chicago Bears. On a cold day in the Windy City, Montgomery gashed the Bears’ defense for 162 yards on 16 carries and added two touchdowns.
He broke through arm tackles, ran hard, showed off his toughness, and proved that the switch to running back was not a fluke.
Over the offseason, the Packers did their due diligence when it came to the running back position as they did not re-sign Lacy and drafted two young running backs in BYU’s Jamaal Williams and UTEP’s Aaron James. All signs still point to Montgomery being the feature back. Montgomery has put in the work during the offseason and added a few more pounds, getting up to 220 lbs., which should help with the wear and tear throughout the season.
“I feel good. I feel solid, a little stronger,” Montgomery said. “I definitely keep my balance more. I think that's something that just comes from playing at the time that I did, at the end of the season, and then training this offseason.
“Now with the pads coming on, I was definitely excited. I'm just going to continue to get better, I know that for a fact.”
If Montgomery can double his output from last season, it is no reason why the Packers cannot have one of the formidable running back by committees in the NFL.