ESPN analyst makes ridiculous statement on Lions' pivot to David Montgomery from Jamaal Williams

David Montgomery is a talent upgrade over Jamaal Williams, at least for most people, but one notable analyst somehow does not see it that way.
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

It feels easy to see the Lions upgraded to David Montgomery from Jamaal Williams, but an ESPN analyst clearly does not see it that way.

To be fair, I've been on the David Montgomery bandwagon from the moment it was reported he signed with the Detroit Lions. On the idea Jamaal Williams wouldn't be back, he was not easy to see as a free agent pivot option.

Many numbers, and they eye test if you're willing to see Williams for what he truly is as a talent, say Montgomery is the better running back. He's more elusive, he breaks tackles better, he's a better pass catcher...the potential running behind the Lions' offensive line was (and still is to some degree) massive for Montgomery this year.

ESPN's Bill Barnwell (subscription required) recently ranked the skill position groups around the NFL. He ranked the Lions group firmly in the middle at No. 16, with praise for Amon-Ra St. Brown and notes about weapons lost and gained dating back to T.J. Hockenson being traded.

But then, Barnwell went off the rails.

Bill Barnwell makes absolutely ridiculous statement about Lions switch to David Montgomery from Jamaal Williams

Barnell talked about the Lions turning over their backfield this offseason, of course swapping Williams for Montgomery and eventually D'Andre Swift for rookie Jahmyr Gibbs.

"Gibbs should have an immediate role in the offense and eventually take away the primary job from free agent addition David Montgomery, who was ordinary with the Bears. Gibbs is likely an upgrade on traded back D'Andre Swift, but Montgomery is a downgrade from Jamaal Williams, who was much closer to a league-average back over the past two seasons."

Bill Barnwell

It can be said Montgomery was a product of a lackluster environment with the Bears. Was he "ordinary" or "much closer to league average", when someone else would have been markedly better in said environment? The answer to that question is hard, but it's fair to lean toward no one could have succeeded at a high level consistently as the Bears went into a rebuild.

Will Burchfield of 97.1 The Ticket also pointed out something. Montgomery got a better contract, off a rough season in 2022, than Williams got coming off his career year. That says a lot about the league-wide view of the two backs.

Time will tell if Montgomery can elevate the Lions' offense in his role this year. But he is absolutely not a talent downgrade from Williams, and to label him as such is a ridiculous reach.