The best friend of any young quarterback is a strong running game and in the case of Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears, David Montgomery is set to become the second-year passer’s BFF in 2022.
Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus spoke with reporters this week at the annual NFL owners’ meetings and made it very clear that he’s a fan – a really big fan – of Montgomery.
“You talk about motor and mean, yeah, he is that guy,” Eberflus said of the 2019 third-round pick. “[He’s] serious. A pro. Worker. He’s going to be exciting to work with, and he’s going to fit right in.”
It’s a refreshing change of pace for a team that hasn’t taken full advantage of Montgomery’s skill set. Former Head Coach Matt Nagy refused to feature the talented fourth-year back despite clear and convincing evidence that he is the most valuable player (prior to Fields’ arrival) on the offensive side of the ball. It’s safe to assume Montgomery will get more than his desired share of touches now that Eberflus in charge.
“He’s the kind of guy that just says, ‘Hey, watch me go. I’m not going to say a whole bunch of things, but just watch me do my job,’” Eberflus said.
Montgomery was off to the best start of his career last year before a knee injury forced him out of action for four games. Prior to the injury, Montgomery registered two 100-yard rushing games and three rushing touchdowns in the first four weeks of the season. He didn’t top the 100-yard mark in any game following his return but by the end of the season, Montgomery totaled 225 carries for 849 yards and seven touchdowns. It was an across-the-board regression from 2020 when he topped 1,000 rushing yards and set a career-high with eight rushing touchdowns.
But that being said, it’s hard to put all the blame for Montgomery’s down year on Nagy. He did, after all, end the year with three-straight games of 20-plus carries. Despite the increased workload, Montgomery didn’t average more than 3.6 yards per carry in any of those contests.
Regardless of the stat sheet, it’s evident to anyone who’s paid attention that Montgomery has the natural ability to be one of the NFL’s most productive all-around running backs. The addition of Lucas Patrick at center, along with a fully healthy Teven Jenkins at left tackle, should help his numbers quite a bit. So too should the shift in the mentality the Bears are expecting their offensive linemen to bring to the field this year.
“You’ve got to finish, and when you finish the right way at the line level and you play with that demeanor, that meanness, that’s the kind of guys we want to acquire,” Eberflus said. “That’s what we’re going to expect of our guys up front. We can’t do that this time of year until we get the pads on, but that’s what we’re going to expect. We’re going to demand that.”
Montgomery is entering the final year of his rookie contract, so there will be extra motivation for a player who already possesses the desire to be great. That, combined with a coaching staff that believes in him, is pointing toward a breakout season for Chicago’s bell-cow back.
A mean offensive line and a mean running back who delivers more punishment than he receives. That’s a fun brand of football, and it’s coming back to Soldier Field.
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 18, 2022