By most people's accounts, the Detroit Lions are going to better at running back than they were last season. Swapping out Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift for David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs easily fuels that kind of optimism.
But there are those who don't think the Lions upgraded their backfield, much or even at all. Which to some degree is fair, since we haven't seen Montgomery and Gibbs play a game together yet, not to mention Gibbs is a rookie. The idea they'll be on the field at the same time sometimes is out there as an enticing one though.
Pro Football Focus' ranking of the Lions running backs 16th among the NFL's running back corps is flat out disrespectful, and possibly too deferential to a career year from Williams for the Lions in 2022. Or it's acting as if Swift is a massive loss for the Lions Gibbs can't replace capably, which just isn't true.
Detroit Lions running back duo gets favorable ranking from Bleacher Report
Bleacher Report's Alex Ballentine recently ranked the NFL's best running back duos heading into the 2023 season. Narrowing to a rank of 1-7, Montgomery and Gibbs come in at No. 7.
"David Montgomery is the capable veteran back in the new duo. He's only rushed for over 1,000 yards one time, but he's a reliable pass-catching option with 155 career receptions in four seasons and 1,240 yards."- Alex Ballentine, Bleacher Report
After establishing Montgomery as the steady veteran, Ballentine turned to establishing Gibbs as the x-factor in the Lions' backfield.
"If Gibbs is anywhere near as good as advertised and Montgomery is used to free up the rookie's role while keeping him fresh then this pairing could be even better than Williams and Swift were last season."
A top-7 ranking among all NFL backfield duos right now for Montgomery and Gibbs may feel a little rich. But that is definitely where the potential sits for them this year, with room for both to produce at a high level in their roles.