INDIANAPOLIS – New assistant head coach and running backs coach Scottie Montgomery has two core principles he wants the running backs in his room to live by.
"There are two things we want to be known for," Montgomery told a group of local reporters at the Combine this week. "We want to protect the quarterback and we want to protect the football. All the rest of the accolades will come at the end of the year if we do those things."
Montgomery joins Dan Campbell's staff as the new assistant head coach and running backs coach, replacing Duce Staley, who left to join Carolina's staff to be closer to family. Montgomery was the Colts' running backs coach the last two years but also has experience as a head coach and offensive coordinator in the college ranks.
He interviewed with Campbell for the open offensive coordinator position last offseason that ultimately went to Ben Johnson.
"To be able to acquire him as our running back coach/assistant head coach from the Colts, man, was big," Campbell said of Montgomery. "So, I think he's going to be an outstanding teacher. I think he's got a lot of versatility. He's coached the receivers, he's coached running backs. He's been a head coach, he's been a coordinator. He's worked with quarterbacks. So, I just think that this is a talented coach, man, that's got a lot of wisdom."
Montgomery inherits a Lions running back room coming off a career season in which the team rushed for 1,880 yards, averaged 4.4 yards per carry and scored 23 rushing touchdowns. Veteran Jamaal Williams led the way with his first 1,000-yard season and broke the single-season franchise rushing touchdown record with 17. Williams is an unrestricted free agent, but there's mutual interest on both sides for him to re-sign.
Montgomery said he's excited to work with the running backs in that room when they return to the building for the offseason training program.
"There's things that we think we can get better at," he said. "Let's go do that. It's not my job to say who's going to be in the room. My job is to say how hard I'm going to coach these guys. I'm going to coach the hell out of whoever is in the room."
Montgomery said he's also eager to start working with D’Andre Swift and see where he can go as a player entering his fourth season. Swift has all the tools to be a productive back in this league, but injuries have limited him some early in his career. Montgomery said all the tools are there for Swift to be a great player.
View photos of the linebackers at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.
Montgomery helped Jonathan Taylor become a superstar ball carrier in Indianapolis, and also played a key role in making him a better pass blocker, receiver and overall more complete player. Montgomery said coaching a player the caliber of Taylor helped him become a better coach because it made him find unique ways to make an already terrific player even better. Those are the things he'll bring to that room in Detroit.
"Overall if I had to put three words together (to describe the kind of room I want to have) it would smart, tough and reliable," Montgomery said. "We got to protect the football and protect the quarterback and work our (butt) off on doing those things."