Brad Holmes gives definitive answer to if the Lions upgraded at running back this offseason

Whatever people think, but Lions general manager Brad Holmes has given a definitive answer to if the Lions upgraded at running back this offseason.

Immediately upon pivoting to David Montgomery in free agency when contract talks with Jamaal Williams stalled, some people were all-in to say the Detroit Lions notably upgraded. More recently, ESPN's Bill Barnwell wrote Montgomery was a downgrade from Williams.

Based on some notable numbers, it's hard to see how Montgomery isn't a better back than Williams.

After the Lions drafted Jahmyr Gibbs and traded D'Andre Swift, the idea the backfield had been upgraded felt obvious even before Gibbs ever took the field for an NFL practice. There were and are lingering Williams or Swift truthers who will lament their loss until further notice, but it's all opinion on either side right now.

General manager Brad Holmes' recent appearance on "The Season with Peter Schrager" was long (70 minutes) and full of good content. He talked about only Gibbs at one point, and also the Lions' running back turnover this offseason.

Brad Holmes gives definitive answer to if Lions upgraded at running back

It was clear the Lions were done trying to rely on Swift, and Williams passed on what was apparently the same contract offer Montgomery took. But even with those notes, Holmes gave credible thoughts to Schrager on the swapping out of the top two spots on the running back depth chart.

"When you look at it systematically, I do think we'll be better offensively,""That's no knock on the contributions that those other two guys gave us. Swift is a dynamic player and Jamaal was a great leader for us, and he did so much for us. He had a great season. But I think Montgomery and Jamaal are different backs. Montgomery does a little bit more in the passing game. And being able to add Gibbs, he's just so dynamic as a receiver. Look, he's a home run hitter as a running back, that's the easy part. What he does as a receiver -- he runs routes like a receiver.""

Brad Holmes

Per Next Gen Stats, Williams' stuff percentage in 2022 was 16 percent last season, while Montgomery's was 13.4 percent--tied for fifth-fewest in the NFL among backs with 100 carries. Montgomery was also working behind an awful Bears' offensive line, while Williams was operating behind one of the best lines in the league.

Holmes is never going to say, "yeah, we feel like we didn't get better at running back this offseason." But he wasn't hyperbolic in saying he thinks the Lions will be better and more variable offensively with Montgomery and Gibbs in place instead of Williams and Swift. There's plenty to back up the sentiment, with or without Holmes' proverbial blessing of his own work.


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