Give Matt Nagy credit for saying he wants to use a committee approach when it comes to the running back position, but don’t be surprised if rookie David Montgomery is the bell cow before long. While the Bears have generally been trying to keep their depth chart a secret (and not allowing media members to report on the topic) it seems the rookie has already been getting playing time with the first team, a rarity for any mid-round running back.
Montgomery will still have to earn the job. Running backs, especially those in the 220-pound range, generally don’t show much until the pads come on; it’s impossible to display power and contact balance when the defense can’t hit. But by all accounts, Montgomery has looked the part, opening eyes the same way Tarik Cohen did two years ago, per Adam Jahns on the Hoge & Jahns Podcast.
Montgomery’s currently tied fifth favorite to be Offensive Rookie of the Year. Third among non-QBs.
The Bears signed Mike Davis and it seems that he has gotten most of the reps with the first team offense this offseason. But in the most recent clips released by the team on their website, you can see Montgomery sneaking out of the backfield with Mitch Trubisky playing quarterback. Maybe those are just misleading shots, but they didn’t exist at the start of the offseason program, when even Ryan Nall was shown with the starters in one of the clips.
If Montgomery has already been as impressive as most have said without the pads, the general expectation is that he’ll be even better once they start hitting. After all, his strength is supposed to be his ability to play through contact.
Davis is going to get the first crack at the starting job because the Bears paid him well enough that they have to make sure they know what they have before possibly moving on after the season. The Run DMC (Davis, Montgomery, Cohen) slogan for a possible running back trio is nice, but ultimately not very realistic. Nagy talks about having a committee approach, but it has almost always been a one-man show in the running game for his teams. Since entering the NFL in 2008, Nagy has only had second-string running backs get more than 100 carries twice. Once it was at least partially because the starter missed four games.
The starting running backs, however, have averaged roughly 221 carries per season. And when they’ve had a main back, whether it be Shady McCoy, Jamaal Charles or, yes, Jordan Howard, the back generally had more than 250 touches. The Bears didn’t trade up to get Montgomery thinking he wouldn’t be the kind of back they could give 250 touches too.
Can’t stop watching Walter Payton highlights 😨😨😨 @paytonsun
— David Montgomery (@MontgomerDavid) June 30, 2019
Gil Brandt thinks Montgomery is going to top 300 touches and 1,200 yards. While Montgomery might not get the 250 carries Howard got last year, but he’ll likely be more of a factor in the passing game. The running back by committee sentiment is nice, but the Bears invested quite a bit in Montgomery so the expectation should be that he’ll carry the load.