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Montgomery Bears Offense
Chicago Bears

Why Bears’ Offense Runs Through David Montgomery

  • Carmen Vitali
  • June 9, 2022
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America (and even the Chicago Bears’ sponsorships) may run on Dunkin’ but the Bears’ offense runs on/through David Montgomery.

Under new Head Coach Matt Eberflus and Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy, Chicago has a chance to reinvent themselves, while developing quarterback Justin Fields into the signal-calling savior the Bears’ offense needs. To do that, they’ll need help from multiple phases within Getsy’s new system.

All reports out of OTAs seem to be that Fields is adjusting well. Getsy and Eberflus have spoken about tailoring the offense to Fields’ dual-threat skillset, which with both are impressed.

“I would say, man, he throws a good deep ball,” Eberflus said via the Bears’ website. “I would say that. I’m excited about that. You can see it in the 7-on-7s and 11s-on-11s. We’re going to take our shots downfield.”

Taking shots downfield though is only one part of the equation to what Eberflus wants to see out of the Bears’ offense. The defensive-minded head coach seems to be in favor of a more balanced approach, especially from his quarterback, given his recent comments during OTAs.

“I think twofold: the deep ball and then the ability to run with the ball,” Eberflus said on the Rich Eisen Show. “I think those things stretch you, so when you get stretched vertically and horizontally like that, it always causes stressors on a defense. It doesn’t matter what kind of style you’re running.”

Fields is already a microcosm for what is a larger offensive mentality. His rookie year saw him show that off, too. Fields was often left to his own devices, playing backyard football with seemingly little help from the scheme around him in order to make things happen.

That’s going to change, and it’ll come in the form of ‘run-support’ – literally.

“I mean, it’s 11 as one,” said Getsy. “And for a young quarterback, implementing that around him – that’s huge. So, if you can run the ball, that helps you in your play pass game. The hardest part of this game is dropping back to pass. It’s plain and simple.”

Enter Montgomery.

Well, and the rest of the Bears’ run game – including Khalil Herbert, who may have just earned himself more work after flashing last season.

The Bears were top 10 in rushing percentage, opting to keep the ball on the ground 44.2% of the time – even with a limited offensive line. It meant the onus fell mostly on Montgomery alone to make things happen (I’m sensing a trend with last year’s team), as it had his two seasons prior. Last year was Montgomery’s lowest rushing total in Chicago, yet he still managed 849 yards and seven touchdowns across 13 games. He also caught 42 passes for 301 yards to give him his third-straight 1,000-scrimmage-yard season. Keeping Montgomery a featured part of the Bears’ offensive attack is crucial for opening up the offense and keeping opponents guessing.

Even better if you can have a rushing tandem.

During Montgomery’s absence, rookie Khalil Herbert started two games in Week 6 and 7 of last season. In those games, he tallied 197 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown and added 48 receiving yards.

Getsy has some familiarity with running back tandems. Yes, he was the quarterbacks coach for the Packers at his last stop, but he coordinated with both Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon in Green Bay. The two backs accounted for around 800 yards last year and nine total rushing touchdowns. Jones also caught six touchdown passes, while Dillon caught two.

Could a similar scheme be afoot in Chicago now? Because it seems like they have the talent to do it.

More than the direct contributions of Montgomery (and Herbert) to the offense in the form of tangible production, let’s revisit that whole ‘opening things up’ concept. Having an established ground game should translate into significant play action and RPO usage, which Fields seems to be built for yet hasn’t really had the chance to operate.

Last season, 16.8% of the Bears’ offensive plays were either play action or an RPO, which ranked 22nd league wide. Thankfully, under Getsy, reports out of Bears’ OTAs already seem like that will be bumped up a notch.

“I don’t want to get too much in detail with it, but Justin’s on the move a lot, and I think he does well with that,” tight end Cole Kmet said. “That’s been exciting to see, and you see the types of throws he can make with his legs and on the run and off-schedule.”

This should be music to Bears’ fans ears. The fact that Fields wasn’t doing this last year seems like a waste, quite frankly. Play action delays pressure, giving Fields more time to process and let those deep passes Eberflus is so enamored with develop. That should, in turn, also help the offensive line as they start to gel, by easing the pressure they face.

It’s the same concept with the run-pass option. Fields can make his reads, decide to tuck the ball and throw – or hand it off. These wrinkles in an offense all get the defense to hesitate and buy Fields more time. It’s as simple as that.

But it doesn’t happen unless the Bears have a balanced attack with a legitimate run threat. That is the cornerstone of this offense and it starts (and runs) through Montgomery as a result.

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Carmen Vitali