The Ravens announced Friday that running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery would not return, after the team finished 30th in the NFL in rushing. Montgomery had been with the team six seasons, so his departure is a significant change. He is the only running backs coach that Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce have had with the Ravens.
There could be other staff changes, in light of the Ravens’ offensive woes, and with offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell a candidate for both the Redskins and Lions head coaching positions. In a statement announcing Montgomery’s departure, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wished Montgomery the best.
“Wilbert has decided to pursue other coaching and life opportunities,” Harbaugh said in the statement. “I want to thank him for everything he did for our organization. Wilbert has been a tremendous coach for the Ravens, and he has played an integral role in the success we’ve experienced.”
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However, this season did not go well for the Ravens’ running game. Only the Falcons (77.9 yards per game) and the Jaguars (78.8) finished worse in rushing than the Ravens (83.0).
Blaming the Ravens’ running game issues largely on Montgomery would be absurd, considering the Ravens’ offensive line issues and the injuries that hampered Rice. But during his Tuesday press conference, Harbaugh gave an eye-raising response when asked why Rice was benched for a long stretch during the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Bengals. There may have been a breakdown in communication between Harbaugh and Montgomery, but Harbaugh made it clear he thought Rice should have played more.
“I really can’t explain that adequately right now, in all honesty,” Harbaugh said, when asked why Rice was not in the game for a significant period. “That was something that happened during the game that, when I looked over and saw it, I put him back in the game. So, I don’t have an answer for you right now. He should have been out there.”
What the future holds for Montgomery remains to be seen. But it will not be with the Ravens.