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Football Outsiders Q&A, Part 3: Packers’ running game is ‘tantalizing, but unproven’

We wrap up our Q&A with looks at a few different facets of the Packers’ ground game.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, as part of an annual tradition between SB Nation team blogs and Football Outsiders, we at Acme Packing Company had the opportunity to ask the folks at FO a few questions about the Green Bay Packers and their outlook for the 2017 season. We were lucky enough to have FO Assistant Editor Vincent Verhei answer our questions.

Be sure to check out Part I and Part II of the Q&A to see what Vincent thinks of a few of the Packers’ offseason free agent signings.

Today, however, we move on to a few established Packers players, including a couple who are critical to the team’s rushing attack. We hope you enjoy the exchange below.

APC: The Packers’ running game averaged 5.25 ALY in the direction of the left tackle last season, good for second in the NFL. We typically focus on David Bakhtiari’s excellent pass-blocking, but does he needs to start getting more credit for his run-blocking as well?

It's important to remember that directional running stats are still team stats. Quite often, runs to the left will fail because the blockers on the right allowed penetration, or vice versa. We think our numbers complement film study and scouting, not replace them, and that's especially true for offensive linemen. I can tell you that we only charted Bakhtiari with four blown blocks on running plays all year. Nineteen left tackles had more, and many of them played fewer than Bakhtiari's 1,057 snaps.

APC: What were your impressions of Ty Montgomery during his stint at running back last season, and how do you expect him to fare as a full-time starter with a full offseason of preparation?

Montgomery was pretty much used as the Packers' top running back from Week 14 onward. In the last four weeks of the regular season, we had him in the top six players in the league in rushing value, but then he was hardly a factor in the playoffs. That sums up Montgomery pretty nicely -- tantalizing, but unproven, and needs to show he can produce consistently. I'd say our projection for him this season -- about 800 yards rushing, another 400 receiving -- is a pretty fair guess for what he'll do this year.

APC: Which team do you think is set up to be the most dangerous competition for the Packers in the NFC North over the next several years?

The Bears are rebuilding for what feels like the tenth year in a row and the Lions are stuck in a never-ending loop of mediocrity, so it's the Vikings by default. And even there, we're predicting a losing season for Minnesota too. Every year you hear about the Vikings' young defensive talent, and every year the actual defensive performance is mediocre. And maybe this will be the year when Sam Bradford AND his receivers AND his offensive line are healthy, which feels like it hasn't happened since he was with the Oklahoma Sooners. They're the most dangerous opponent for Green Bay if everything goes right, but this still looks like Green Bay's division now and in the future.

We want to thank Vincent Verhei for his responses and Football Outsiders for continuing this Q&A session for another year. Be sure to check out the 2017 Football Outsiders Almanac, available here.