No Eddie Lacy.
No James Starks.
Don Jackson got hurt.
Knile Davis is new in town.
With all of that, it was Ty Montgomery to the rescue.
Necessity is the mother of all invention. And the backfield situation necessitated the invention of a big role for Montgomery. He delivered a virtuoso performance in the Green Bay Packers’ 26-10 victory over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
Montgomery carried nine times for 60 yards, helping to provide at least a semblance of balance, and added 10 receptions (13 targets) for 66 yards as part of the Packers’ quick-hitting passing attack. Most of that production came with the receiver playing running back. According to Pro Football Focus, 49 of his 62 snaps came at running back.
“I didn’t have that many plays in the backfield since, like, eighth grade, I think,” he said with a laugh. “But it was a lot of fun, though.”
It wasn’t fun for the Bears, who, like the Cowboys the week before, had no answers for him. He’s only the third player since the start of the 2013 season to have at least 10 catches, 60 rushing yards and 66 receiving yards in a game. Plus, he’s the first Packers player with back-to-back games of 10-plus receptions since Sterling Sharpe in 1993. Not impressive enough? The only other player in franchise history to achieve that feat was the immortal Don Hutson in 1942.
By our count, 60 of Montgomery’s 66 receiving yards came after the catch and 53 of his 60 rushing yards came after contact.
“I’m a football player, and as a football player, I can do anything that’s asked of me,” Montgomery said. “That’s the mind-set I have, that’s the mind-set I was raised with, that’s the mind-set my mom gave me. No matter what it is, she told me to be a versatile athlete. That’s what I try to do.”
This is going to have to be the offensive plan, at least for the short term. The Packers put Lacy on injured reserve before the game and Starks will miss at least another week or two following knee surgery. Jackson’s status is up in the air after sustaining an injured hand after getting drilled attempting to catch a pass in the first second quarter. Davis is going to need some time to learn the playbook and the blocking schemes before he can become a consistent contributor.
“This is how we’re going to have to play until we get Knile up to speed and Don up to speed,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the game. “I’m really proud of Ty. I thought he played great tonight. He made a lot of plays. The short passing game is like an extension of the running game in games like tonight when you’re going with a lot of four-receiver packages with Ty back there. I’m really proud of the way he played. There’s a lot to build on.”
The backfield injuries notwithstanding, Montgomery has benefitted from a change in approach. The Packers spent their opening games against Jacksonville and Minnesota running their usual no-huddle attack. With Jordy Nelson returning after missing all of last season and all of this preseason, coach Mike McCarthy realized that “no-huddle was not the best solution.” In a blast from the past, McCarthy went back to more of a traditional huddle and rotating personnel.
“I think with that,” McCarthy continued, “you’re seeing the other players get opportunities starting Week 3, but now because of injuries it’s maximized. They’re taking full advantage of it. Ty is clearly at the front of the class.”
No doubt about that. Montgomery played 17 snaps on offense in the first four games, including just six in the second, third and fourth games. However, he’s played 95 the past two games to make himself an indispensable part of the offense.
“We’re battling some adversity right now,” he said, “but the most beautiful things – I don’t want to steal too much from 'Mulan' – but good things bloom out of adversity. Adversity is just a chance to see what you’ve really got.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.