Lions' 'Thunder and Lightning' running back duo takes rightful place in ranking

David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs are undeniably one of the top running back duos in the NFL, but are they the best in this ranking?
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Lions started the remaking of their running back depth chart during the 2023 offseason by signing David Montgomery in free agency to replace Jamaal Williams. Then, taking Jahmyr Gibbs 12th overall in the draft set the table for D'Andre Swift to be traded.

It was easy to say the situation was upgraded, and the results last season went on prove it. Montgomery and Gibbs nearly became the seventh pair of 1,000-rushers on the same team in the same season in NFL history (Gibbs fell 55 yards short). Both of them topped 1,100 yards from scrimmage, and both had double-digit rushing touchdowns (Montgomery-13; Gibbs 10).

The "two-headed" monster backfield head coach Dan Campbell envisioned came to fruition.

There's a ton of buzz around Gibbs as he goes into his second season, and rightfully so. But that also makes it easy, even convenient, to set aside or forget about Montgomery. Some people may even want to try to diminish how good Montgomery is.

But not everyone forgets about Montgomery, and it's not like his role in the Lions' offense is going to disappear this year.

Lions' running back duo takes rightful place in Bleacher Report ranking

Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report has ranked the top running back duos in the NFL heading into the 2024 season. After a few honorable mentions, it's a top-eight ranking.

Here's how the list starts, counting down from No. 8.

8. Najee Harris/Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Kyren Williams/Blake Corum, Los Angeles Rams
6. Saquon Barkley/Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles
5. Derrick Henry/Justice Hill, Baltimore Ravens
4. Bijan Robinson/Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons

Ok, so Gibbs and Montgomery have to be top-three.....let's continue.

3. Christian McCaffrey/Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers

2. Raheem Mostert/Devon Achane, Miami Dolphins

Yep, Gibbs and Montgomery are No. 1. Here's what Knox wrote.

"Detroit Lions running backs David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs also missed time with injuries in 2023. Gibbs, the 12th overall pick out of Alabama, missed two games in his rookie season with a hamstring injury. Montgomery missed three games with thigh and rib injuries."

"However, Montgomery and Gibbs were good enough individually that Detroit went 4-1 in games without both. As a tandem, Montgomery and Gibbs were a veritable terror on the rest of the NFL."

"Gibbs was the Pro Bowler of the two and proved to be a do-it-all playmaker. While the rookie was more active in the passing game than his veteran counterpart, Montgomery was the perfect complement as a bruising high-volume runner."

"Together, Detroit's top running backs combined for 1,960 rushing yards, 2,393 scrimmage yards and 24 total touchdowns. The pair helped the Lions rank fifth in yards per carry, fifth in rushing yards, first in rushing touchdowns, third in total offense and fifth in scoring."

Gibbs and Montgomery have complementary skill sets, yet both can be high-level do-it-all backs if needed. If that doesn't make them the best running back duo in the league, no matter who's doing the ranking, nothing will.

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