Even before the damning Mike Silver report on Ty Montgomery’s petulant display on Sunday, before his fumble on the kickoff, or the decision to take it out of the end zone that ultimately cost the Green Bay Packers a win...before all that, the walls were closing in all around the former third-round pick.
Moved to running back from receiver, Montgomery flashed dynamic, big play ability and toughness between the tackles. For a player who had never before played the position, the former Stanford standout played like it was who he’d always been. Injuries kept him from fulfilling his promise as an every-down back, or perhaps they were evidence it was a never a role to which he was suited.
To open the 2017 season, the Packers used Montgomery more often than any other running back in the league, believing he had the talent to be an impactful piece in an already-dynamic offense. There had been times during the 2016 season he was the offense on the ground and though the air. But he didn’t pay off that hope with production before an injury gave way to Aaron Jones.
It didn’t take Jones long before he proved himself as the Packers best pure running back and it was only through his injury we saw what a powerful, reliable back Jamaal Williams could be.
For whatever consternation there has (rightly) been about the lack of snaps from Jones this season, those wrongs were mostly righted against the Rams. In the biggest game of the season, Montgomery took just six offensive snaps, reportedly part of the impetus for a sideline temper tantrum. Jones took 32 to Williams’ 13, a much more reflective backfield share when it comes to potential impact on the offense.
According to Silver’s report, McCarthy docked Montgomery snaps after already once refusing to heed coaching instructions to stay in the end zone, after which Montgomery was reportedly furious. His eventual decision to take it out of the end zone with just over two minutes could have been viewed as an “I’ll show you moment,” or perhaps more generously as a “I can make a play, this is why I’ve been taking it out.”
Either way, it’s ugly for No. 88, a reflection more of selfish pride and ego than a desire to help the team win. As one player anonymously quoted in the Silver piece says, “What the f--- are you doing? We’ve got Aaron Rodgers.”
But the Packers have much more than that on offense. Davante Adams officially belongs in the elite receiver conversation. Geronimo Allison showed out early, giving way to the explosive talents of Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Randall Cobb still has juice left in the tank and Equanimeous St. Brown tantalizes with his physical ability.
This offense doesn’t need Ty Mongtomery. He’s versatile and useful, but inessential. He’s the Chevy Tahoe in a garage with Ferraris, Maseratis and Porsches. You could drive in the Tahoe to the store but like ... why?
If he can’t follow directions on special teams, a role in which he’s been unremarkable at best following a standout college career as a returner, and the offense doesn’t really have a home for him, what’s his role for the Packers? And to be clear: he’s obviously talented enough to help an offense.
Just not this one right now.
Even if we forget the selfish behavior at the LA Coliseum that could be ruinous in the minds of his coaches and teammates, there were already going to be scant opportunities for Montgomery in this Packers offense. That’s a shame, but it’s also a credit to the young players who have a chance at star turns because of what they’ve done over the last year plus.
With the trade deadline approaching Tuesday afternoon, the best thing for both Montgomery and the Packers is to find him a new home. Someone who will use that Tahoe to drive the kids to school, go to work, and go to soccer practice. There’s still enough there to give him a chance to start anew and be a useful piece for a needy team.
Oakland could be in the market for a useful offensive weapon. Would a team like the Bills find use for his versatility in an offense devoid of playmakers? In exchange for say, an aging pass rusher with some tread left on the tires. Would the New York Giants be interested in lightening the load of their virtuoso rookie running back in exchange for a safety who could get expensive in the offseason?
There could be opportunities for Brian Gutekunst to resolve this situation in a way that makes sense for his team and another. Montgomery’s value right now might not be very high, but if the team is already shopping Ha Ha Clinton-Dix — as has been reported by multiple outlet — Montgomery could simply be a filler piece to sweeten a potential deal. At this point, he’s not the headliner of a trade for an impact player, but could be a buy-low option for teams.
Ty Montgomery seems like a good guy and graciously switched positions to help the team. The unfortunate reality of the NFL is that fortunes turn on single plays. Ask Jeremy Ross. Green Bay no longer has to tolerate even slight missteps to accommodate a necessary talent because Montgomery is no longer the latter after two straight offseasons of adding offensive skill talent.
It would be a shame if the last act of a promising young player was a fumble that cost his team a huge win, but if what’s been reported is true, it’s hard to see Montgomery, already short on usage, coming back from it.