PFF practically makes case for Lions RB room to be higher in their rankings

Even ranking the Lions running backs as high as they did, Pro Football Focus practically made a case they should be higher.
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Last August, during a visit with SiriusXM NFL Radio at training camp, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell said he envisioned a "two-headed monster" backfield with David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs.

It's safe to say that came to fruition. Montgomery and Gibbs fell just short of being the seventh teammate duo in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards. They both did get to double-digit rushing scores and over 1,100 yards from scrimmage, despite each missing a few games.

Montgomery and Gibbs have a strong case as the best running back duo in the league, and Bleacher Report agrees. They were one of three teammate duos among Pro Football Focus' top-20 graded running backs from last season, and one of just two of those who are still together this year.

PFF practically makes case for Lions to be higher in their running back rankings

It's rankings season, and Pro Football Focus is rolling out position rankings. Running back unit rankings came out recently, with the Lions coming at No. 3. The San Francisco 49ers, driven by Christian McCaffrey, come in at No. 1. The Miami Dolphins (De'Von Achane, Raheem Mostert, rookie Jaylen Wright) coming at No. 2.

McCaffrey generated the most PFF "wins above average" among running backs last year (0.25). The Dolphins had the highest team rushing grade. But the site's own explanation outlining the Lions' resume seems to indicate a broader body of work.

"The Lions, led by David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, were a top-five team in rushing touchdowns (24), missed tackles forced (96), explosive run plays (55) and rushing grade (90.2) in 2023."

"Gibbs is primed to be even better in 2024, so expect Detroit to stay near the top of these rankings."

Yes, Gibbs is lined up to be even better this year. The Dolphins running backs had six more explosive runs than the Lions' backs did last year, with two more rushing scores. But Montgomery and Gibbs had more rushing yards and yards from scrimmage, and Gibbs had as many receptions by himself as Mostert and Achane did combined. Team and offensive system context are important things to note, but the numbers are what they are.

So the Lions running backs got a nice ranking from Pro Football Focus. But there seems to be a case, and they almost made it, for Montgomery, Gibbs, etc. to be higher.