Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery had a decent 2019 season but not one the team expected. He looks to build on his rookie season so he could break out in 2020.
The Chicago Bears offense struggled mightily throughout the 2019 season. The unit ranked 29th in both total points and yards. The running game also ranked 29th in average yards per carry (3.7).
The Bears drafted David Montgomery out of Iowa State with their third-round pick (73rd overall) in the 2019 NFL Draft. He replaced fan-favorite Jordan Howard because the Bears felt he’d be a better fit in head coach Matt Nagy’s offense.
Montgomery is a shifty, athletic back who has incredible balance. His athleticism, quickness, and balance all help him be an incredibly elusive runner. In his last two seasons in college, he led the nation in broken tackles. He had more than 100 broken tackles in each season. No other player reached 100 in either season.
Montgomery continued his elusive ways in Chicago. He ranked eighth in broken tackles in 2019. The problem was that he broke tackles just to gain a small number of yards. He constantly ran into a wall of humanity whenever he touched the ball. With injuries practically closing off the right side of the offensive line, teams could cheat and stack the other side. He had to break a number of tackles just to protect his life.
With the offensive line struggles Montgomery had to fight tooth and nail for his yards. Despite the struggles, Montgomery gained 889 rushing yards and added 185 receiving yards. The fact that he gained 1,074 yards from scrimmage was incredible.
Bears made changes to help improve the running game
This offseason, the Chicago Bears made some moves to help improve the running game. Right guard Kyle Long retired (or was forced out if you believe what he says), a spot opened up. Rashaad Coward and Alex Bars will compete for the starting job. Additionally, the Bears brought in Germain Ifedi to compete for the job. Ifedi struggled with the New Orleans Saints but he played well when he was at guard. As a guard, he moves bodies out of the way, opening big holes for the running back. If he does that in Chicago, Montgomery will take advantage of that.
Nagy is doing his best to change as well. He admitted that the Bears didn’t utilize Montgomery effectively. Of course, part of that was because of the offensive line. However, Montgomery carried the ball more than 20 times in only four games last season. Furthermore, there were seven games in which he carried less than 15 times. It’s difficult to get a running game going when you don’t give the running backs enough touches.
The Bears also brought in new coaches to try to help the running game. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, offensive line coach Juan Castillo, and tight ends coach Clancy Barone work together to try to improve the running game.
Montgomery feels that the changes will help improve the running game. He’s also improving himself to play better.
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It’s going to be better this year. I’m going to be better this year for this team and this organization. I’m going to come as prepared as ever to lead that running back room the way I need to — and be who I need to be for this offense and this team.
We saw how Montgomery was able to gain over 1,000 all-purpose yards despite having a man on him practically the moment he touched the ball. Now imagine if the offensive line does its job and opens up holes for him. Imagine him running with space and being even more elusive. He’ll have more carries and more big plays.
With improved wide receiver play as well, Montgomery will be more effective catching out of the backfield. With the attention pointed to Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Darnell Mooney, and perhaps Riley Ridley, Montgomery will be an asset catching the ball out on the flat.
It’s exciting to think of what Montgomery can do in this offense when things are going well. If they are, then Montgomery has a breakout season. If he does that, he’ll go a long way to helping the passing game. Teams won’t just sit zero in on the passing game. They’ll have to respect the run game again and that opens things up. When that happens, the fun returns to Chicago.