Following Thursday's night's 21-20 season-opening victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell emphasized that rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs will see a more prominent role moving forward. David Montgomery, the new "Thunder" to Gibbs' "Lightning" in the Lions' backfield, had 21 carries for 74 yards and the decisive touchdown against Kansas City.
Gibbs repeatedly flashed his blend of speed, strength, and elusiveness as he maximized his opportunities. Gibbs carried the rock seven times for 42 yards along with two receptions totaling 18 yards. He forced six missed tackles and 34 yards after contact on his rushes (per Pro Football Focus). He also slipped on a rushing attempt in the red zone, where he clearly would have gotten to the outside and likely scored easily if not for falling down.
Detroit Lions' new backfield performed as advertised in Week 1
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson were clearly content with easing Gibbs into action, with just 19 offensive snaps in his professional debut. Montgomery, on the other hand, was on the field for 55 offensive snaps.
Gibbs' running style reminds me a lot of Alvin Kamara, who was Gibbs' top comp during the pre-draft process. On Thursday night, he often displayed a lot of patience, waiting to set up his blocks before exploding through the hole. He is shifty like Kamara, but he also proved he is willing to lower his shoulder and show power.
Gibbs' skill set, paired with Montgomery, looks like the Lions' version of the Kamara-Mark Ingram combination New Orleans had under Sean Payton. Not coincidentally, Campbell was an assistant under Payton during that time.
It's obviously only one game, but Gibbs and Montgomery appear to be a significant upgrade for the Lions over the previous pair of D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. The workload split should, and will, move toward Gibbs. But the new running back duo in Detroit was as advertised in Week 1.