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Lions mailbag: How will Detroit respond to life without David Montgomery?

The Detroit Lions will be missing a key part of their offense due to David Montgomery’s injury. How will they respond?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell said that after sustaining a rib injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, running back David Montgomery will miss some time. Campbell did not rule out a trip to injured reserve for Montgomery.

Without a doubt, that’s a pretty significant blow to the Lions offense. Campbell had previously called Montgomery “a big piece of what we are and what we have offensively.” There will be an adjustment that has to be made.

Will they just feature a new back like Jahmyr Gibbs, who appears to be trending towards returning from his injury? Will they have to change their overall philosophy to a more pass-focused team like they did in the second half against the Bucs? Can someone like Craig Reynolds, Devine Ozigbo, or Mohamed Ibrahim step in and take over Montgomery’s role?

On Tuesday, myself and Erik Schlitt discussed what’s next for the Lions offense.

“Are they going to pass more? Maybe, because that’s what the skill players around them lean towards,” Schlitt said. “Maybe you’re going to see more passing, but fundamentally they’re still going to go into the game the same way that they did when Montgomery was injured earlier in the year, as well.”

Montgomery missed Week 4’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. And while the game plan was a bit skewed towards their passing offense (33 passes, 28 rushes—kneel downs excluded), they were able to split a significant amount of carries with their other backs: Gibbs (17 carries), Reynolds (4) and Zonovan Knight (3).

That said, there is one area of concern that Montgomery’s absence could be felt, and it’s a big one: the red zone. Montgomery has six rushing touchdowns on the year, and the only other back with a single score is Reynolds.

“They’ve been such a good team at running goal line,” I said. “We saw all the touchdowns that Jamaal Williams scored last year, David Montgomery was on a pace to beat that this year. What do they do now?”

We break down that topic more, including a discussion on what Ozigbo and Ibrahim bring to the table. That entire discussion starts around the 17:50 mark of the show.

Other topics this week:

  • Is the lack of pass rush vs. the Buccaneers concerning? (2:50)
  • What happened with Kerby Joseph vs. Tampa? (12:10)
  • How important is pass-game coordinator Tanner Engstrand right now? (25:50)
  • Under what circumstances would Ben Johnson stay in Detroit for 2024? (30:30)
  • How will the Lions secondary adjust to a dangerous Ravens passing attack? (33:45)
  • Which Lions players have played above your expectations in 2023? (39:00)

Listen to the entire show below or head over to our Twitch page to watch it on replay.

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