By and large, “they” are idiots. They could be pundits, coaches, media personalities, bloggers, or even other Packers fans. Whoever “they” are, you know what they’re saying, and they’re probably wrong about it.
This is our chance to fire back at what “they” get wrong about the Packers.
Evan “Tex” Western
“They” said that Ty Montgomery couldn’t be an every-down running back. “They” said (and are still saying) that he doesn’t have the frame or the build to hold up under 20-25 touches in a game. “They” said that a converted wide receiver would be giving up a bunch of carries to the Packers’ trio of rookie running backs.
“They” are wrong.
Through two games, no other running back in the NFL has been on the field for as many offensive snaps as Montgomery’s 124. Only seven players in the NFL have had more touches (rushes + receptions) than Montgomery’s 39. Just two players have scored more touchdowns than Montgomery’s three. And only five players in the league have more yards from scrimmage than Montgomery’s 203.
Yes, he ranks 16th in carries and has a modest 3.1 yards per carry. However, Montgomery is demonstrating that he can line up on the field on nearly every play, carry the rock around 15 times per game with a few additional touches in the passing game, and remain productive and powerful from the first through the fourth quarters.
Furthermore, there is nothing about Montgomery’s build that implies that he cannot take a pounding between the tackles. He is listed at six feet and 216 pounds, but is realistically closer to 225. Let’s say he’s 220 pounds now though, for the sake of argument. That puts him at the same size as Jay Ajayi in Miami and just a few pounds lighter than Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas (who goes 6 feet and 225). He’s even a bit more dense than Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray (an inch taller than and the same weight as Monty), who had 346 touches last year and a stunning 449(!!) in 2014 for the Cowboys.
Montgomery should not approach the number of touches that those three players had in 2016 (all were at or near 300), but that is a function of the Packers’ offense, not some nebulous assessment of whether his build can handle it. It’s time that the narrative about Montgomery being anything other than a featured running back dies; he just happens to be a feature back who also has the ability to split out as a receiver on occasion.
Here is a list of things that are true. “They” always get these wrong.
- Injuries matter, a lot.
- Dom Capers’ defenses are often very good (2009, 2010, 2012, 2015)
- The Packer talent outside of Aaron Rodgers is actually quite good.
- Luck plays an enormous role in the outcome of football games.
- “Establishing the run” doesn’t matter. (People are improving on this one.)
- Injuries almost never reflect a lack of toughness or some kind of moral failing.
- Even bad players try really hard.
- “Clutch” play isn’t really a thing.
- QB Winz are not a thing.
- 4th quarter comebacks are more a proxy of how long a quarterback has played, or how bad his team is, or both.
- Defenses sometimes allow points because offenses make mistakes.
- Offenses sometimes score points because defenses make plays.
- There are at least a few front offices who are worse at talent evaluation and team management than outside analysts.
- In-game strategy is underrated by almost everyone.
- The ability of a backup quarterback to actually play doesn’t matter.
- Teams should use backup quarterbacks either to develop future trade chips, or as coaches.
- With a few exceptions, the talent at the end of the first round of the draft is about what it is at the beginning of the first round of the draft.
- Tanking in the NFL is a stupid concept.
- “Speed” is not a proxy for “talent”. This is not Tecmo Bowl.
- Unless you know the assignments on every play, assigning a grade to individual players is foolhardy.
- Assigning a subjective grade that goes all the way to the tenths decimal place indicates that you are attempting to lie about the precision of your metric.
- Quarterbacks have more of a hand in Yards After Catch than is commonly acknowledged.
- Most of what makes running backs valuable isn’t running.
- Strength of schedule matters a ton, and one of the reasons the Patriots always make the playoffs is that their division is always awful.
- The stock isn’t worthless.
Sometimes, “they” can be a lot closer than you’d ever expect. My wife thought Eddie Lacy looked a lot thinner this year and liked his haircut because she could see his jersey better. She was talking about Ty Montgomery. We have a ways to go.
“They” always say the Packers need a balanced offense. “They” don’t know what balance means.
Paul pointed out above that “establishing the run” is a myth in today’s NFL, but it still comes up repeatedly. The same is true about the idea of a balanced offense.
Green Bay’s best offensive weapon is Aaron Rodgers, and getting him the most opportunities to do what he does should be the focus of the offense. Every run play called essentially removes an opportunity for Aaron Rodgers to be Aaron Rodgers. In addition, the average passing play has a much higher rate of return than the average running play. With these facts in mind, it would be unbelievably stupid to call an equal number of running plays and passing plays in the name of “balance.”
Balance should therefore only be considered an effort to call enough running plays to keep the defense honest. While Aaron Rodgers obviously needs as many opportunities as the offense can give him, he can’t be his most effective self if the defense can just sell out on pass defense every down. A balanced offense, therefore, is not one that calls equal numbers of running and passing plays, but rather calls just enough running plays to maximize the effectiveness of the passing game.
“They” as in Packers fans and media are extremely critical of Ted Thompson and the Packers organization for their lack of free agency spending on an annual basis. I get it - I have my irritations as well when I think a particular move could put the team over the top. But it’s not as easy at it appears on the surface to responsibly manage the salary cap and add veteran players.
An example from this past offseason is cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Many felt that with Green Bay’s pressing need at corner, they should make a splash and sign the former Buffalo Bill, who was widely thought to be the best on the market. Well, the price is high for those type of players. Gilmore received a 5-year, $65 million contract from the New England Patriots. That is a lot of money for a player who, despite his age and potential, has had inconsistencies and injuries. If the Packers had signed Gilmore, it would not only have impacted the team’s ability to sign a number of players this offseason for about the same cost as they did, but also re-sign their own internal to-be free agents - not to mention sign an extension for Aaron Rodgers in the near future.
For Thompson, it’s all about value and thinking for the future, not just the present. Free agency is a time for high-risk, high-reward spending. Most players’ value is worth less than the contracts they receive and those contracts ultimately inhibit the organization two-plus years down the road. Many of those players were great for their former organizations but struggle to fit the scheme of their new team. It’s far from a guarantee that free agent contracts work out in the end.
Green Bay found several players this year who met their contract values and would not be a detriment long-term. It’s time to give Thompson more credit for keeping this team competitive from one year to the next without jeopardizing its financial state.