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.
Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery have served as complimentary backs this season.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 10, 2023
Montgomery has recorded the 6th-highest rushing success rate (44.7%). Gibbs has been more explosive, with 7 carries gaining at least 10 rushing yards over expected (T-2nd in NFL).#OnePride pic.twitter.com/csd8rBjfBA
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:
With the return of David Montgomery, the @Lions now have two of the top five running backs by yards after contact this season (min. 50 carries):— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 10, 2023
Jahymr Gibbs: 3.8 (1st)
Montgomery: 3.7 (5th)#OnePride pic.twitter.com/VV9DG1Pq8J
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.”
Love this from Ben Johnson: "It’s a good problem to have right now, having some mouths to feed."— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) November 9, 2023
Looking forward to what comes from the balance between Jahmyr Gibbs & David Montgomery. Johnson said they'll both get a fair load of touches. "They both have proved worthy of it." pic.twitter.com/0mGCeaChJg
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:
- In case you missed it, our own Meko Scott and Morgan Cannon posted a great film study video on Friday morning. You can watch the entire episode on our official Pride of Detroit YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of the great video content from Meko and Morgan that gets posted there.
- The Week 10 preview episode of the Detroit Lions Breakdown podcast with Joe Kania and Erik Schlitt is up. You can listen to it in a web player on their site or through any number of podcast services.
- From earlier in the week, Meko Scott also highlighted four players he’d like to see step it up a notch in the second half of the season on our Pride of Detroit YouTube channel:
- Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer ran his mid-season survey of NFL executives to find out who they thought were the front-runners for 2023’s league awards. Based on the 39 responses he got back, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell is the favorite for coach of the year with 13 votes (with Baltimore’s John Harbaugh in second place with 9.5 votes).
- Our fearless leader Jeremy Reisman was a guest on Anthony Bellino’s Xs and BrOs show on Thursday. You can watch the entire 15-minute segment on that show’s YouTube page.
- Judging from Seth Walder’s pass rush win rate plot against double team rate, it looks like the Lions’ defensive ends (Aidan Hutchinson and Charles Harris) are playing at about league-average levels.
- Sam Farmer from the Los Angeles Times wrote about how “Jared Goff got closure from Sean McVay, and it helped make him a Detroit Lions hero” on Friday. Although the LA Times article is paywalled on its own site, the Yahoo! Sports copy of it is not.
“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:
just now seeing this lol my bad pic.twitter.com/GhmGF9xxcs— Detroit Lions (@Lions) November 10, 2023
- 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.
- Right tackle Penei Sewell joined the Twentyman in the Huddle podcast this week. You can watch the 27-minute episode on the team’s official YouTube channel.
- Folks, the Serpent of Death is pretty damn good.
Josh Reynolds isn't the greatest separator, but he's obviously doing... EVERYTHING ELSE right. https://t.co/GkWMbKckER— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) November 10, 2023
- Fox 2’s Dan Miller sat down for a brief chat with defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. You can watch the three-and-a-half-minute video on the station’s website in an embedded player.
- From NFL Films, a short video about players hamming it up for the camera during introductions. Around five minutes in, they have a bit about Jamaal Williams’ Naruto intro from last December’s win at Green Bay.
- 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.
- Cornerback Jerry Jacobs will be signing stuff at a shop in Laurel Park Mall in Livonia the Sunday after Thanksgiving (November 26).
- From Wednesday, former All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said he would not be surprised if the Lions ended up with the top playoff seed: