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Notes: Data showcases complementary nature of Detroit Lions running backs

Detroit Lions running backs David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs have been consistently excellent in their own ways.

Las Vegas Raiders v Detroit Lions Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

According to data posted by the NFL’s Next Gen Stats group and Tej Seth at Sumer Sports, the Detroit Lions have a pair of excellent running backs with different statistical profiles. The Next Gen Stats folks describe them as being “complementary backs,” with Jahmyr Gibbs being the more explosive runner and David Montgomery churning out consistently positive plays.

While it’s true that Gibbs’ speed lends itself to breakaway plays like the long touchdowns against the Ravens and the Raiders, he has also been pretty good about avoiding negative plays. One of Tej Seth’s plots (the one on the right side in Erik’s tweet below) has negative run rate on the vertical axis and explosive run rate on the horizontal axis, and Gibbs is comfortably off in the good upper right quadrant.

Although the Next Gen Stats crew says Montgomery is the “consistent” back and Gibbs is the “explosive” back, both running backs are actually pretty reliable for what this offense needs. Gibbs may be merely league average in run play success (look in the chart on the left side of Erik’s tweet: Gibbs is in the big mess near where the two axes cross), but he gets the job done without losing yards and occasionally breaks a big one.

What is interesting in the run play success chart is that Montgomery has generated better value-weighted results (higher EPA per rush) in spite of being less explosive. One way to think about this is that Montgomery is getting very consistent success in critical situations. He’s super reliable when you gotta have it.

Another tweet by the Next Gen Stats folks reinforces how good both ball carriers have been for the Lions by way of yards after contact:

Like Montgomery, Gibbs just doesn’t go down right away when defenders hit him so he is tacking on yards even on nominally “unsuccessful” plays. It’s what made color analyst Troy Aikman remark during the Monday Night Football broadcast that “these are the things that you don’t expect when you’ve got a player with his abilities and speed. You just don’t assume they can run with power.”

Are the two Lions running backs among the 11 best players on offense? The data makes it seem like a decent possibility! It will be interesting to see what offensive coordinator Ben Johnson does with these tremendous ground game weapons now that he has both healthy and available.

We now turn to the rest of your Weekend Notes:

“He wanted the full breakdown of why,” recalled former Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth, a close friend of Goff. “I thought that really showed his toughness.”

Goff showed up at Whitworth’s house in the days after the deal was consummated to get his thoughts. Then Goff informed him he was moving on for an exit meeting with hiis former coach.

“I’m like, ‘Wait, what?’ ” Whitworth recalled. “And he’s like, ‘I told Sean I still want to do our exit meeting…’ And I was like, ‘You’re crazy. Why would you want to do an exit?’ And he said, ‘I want him to tell me right to my face what I did wrong. I want to hear it from him. How do I get better?’ He wanted closure.”

Recalling that two years later, Goff didn’t go into details about what was said in his final meeting with McVay, saying only: “I got some answers and gained a lot of closure. He was forthright.”

  • Some of the Lions players have quite a few unread text messages:

  • Former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was on the Pat McAfee Show as a guest when they broadcasted from College Gameday’s setup on location at the University of Georgia. Stafford discussed a lot of Detroit stuff with McAfee for about a 20-minute segment. You can watch it on the show’s YouTube channel.

  • MLive’s Kyle Meinke and Ben Raven posted a new episode of their Dungeon of Doom podcast. This week, Graham Glasgow joined the show to talk about “how pissed he was to be benched coming out of camp.” You can listen to the entire 41-minute episode in a web player on Spotify.

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