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Detroit Lions

David Montgomery replaces rushing touchdown leader

I like the look of David Montgomery. Jamaal Williams punched in a bunch of rushing touchdowns for Detroit last year, and I think Montgomery can fill that kind of role.

It’s unusual, the spot the Lions are in. Williams led the entire league last year with 17 rushing touchdowns, but they chose to not bring him back. They signed Montgomery, and they did so before Williams signed with the Saints.

Since the merger in 1970, only four other times has the player who led the league in rushing touchdowns not returned to play for that same team. It’s happened a little more commonly recently, with two of those other cases coming in the last 10 years – DeMarco Murray and LeGarrette Blount.

1971Duane Thomas, Dall.1757931113-153-2185.66
1989Greg Bell, LAR27211371519-85-0231.210
2014DeMarco Murray, Dall.39218451357-416-0361.12
2016LeGarrette Blount, N.E.2991161187-38-0234.99
2022Jamaal Williams, Det.26210661712-73-0229.912

For me personally, I tend to put weight in a situation. When a running back scores a dozen touchdowns and leaves, I tend to wondering whether his replacement the next year can step in and do something similar. In the case of the Lions, I like the offensive line, and I think Montgomery is a better player than Williams. I’m expecting double-digit touchdowns.

But looking at those previous cases, I will concede there are more misses than hits. One gigantic hit back in 1990, when Cleveland Gary stepped in for Greg Bell and started piling up touchdowns (and fumbles). But in all of the other previous cases, the guys like me who tended to chase after situations tended to come up short.

Most recently, Dallas in 2014 didn’t have a killer replacement for DeMarco Murray. They instead used a combination of Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle. And with the Patriots in 2017, I remember missing on Mike Gillislee. They had signed him in free agency, and I thought he was going to be the Blount replacement, but they instead went primarily with Dion Lewis.

With the Lions, there is another talented back in play. D’Andre Swift has had problems staying healthy, but he’s talented and big asset in the passing game. He’ll be getting on the field plenty as well. In a typical 12-team league, both Montgomery and Swift probably will be starting in Week 1.

1972Walt Garrison, Dall.167784737-390-3214.47
1990Cleveland Gary, LAR2048081430-150-1215.88
2015Darren McFadden, Dall.2391089340-328-0201.713
2015Joseph Randle, Dall.76315410-86-074.169
2017Dion Lewis, N.E.180896632-214-3203.013
2023David Montgomery, Det.????-?-???
2023D'Andre Swift, Det.????-?-???

—Ian Allan

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