The Chicago Bears traded their top running back option from a year ago, Jordan Howard, and they elected to let another, Benny Cunningham, walk in free agency, and they moved Taquan Mizzell to wide out after an underwhelming season. The only returning tailback expected to see significant time in 2019 is Tarik Cohen, and he spends some of his time on offense playing wide receiver.
So how it it that the Bears revamped running back room is already getting such high praise, ranked 5th overall in the NFL, from SB Nation?
Primary backs: Tarik Cohen, Mike Davis, David Montgomery
The Bears’ rushing attack underwhelmed in 2018, but Chicago is hoping swapping out Jordan Howard for Davis and third-round pick Montgomery will recharge its backfield. There’s reason to believe it will work.
Cohen, the team’s major holdover from last year’s NFC North championship team, is a do-everything stalwart who is best deployed as a defense-glitching receiver but also contributes on the ground. Davis played a major role in Seattle’s refusal to tank in 2018, gaining more than 500 yards (on 4.6 yards per carry) and leading the Seahawks’ tailbacks in receptions (34). Montgomery was an elite space-creator in college whom Pro Football Focus loved, even if advanced stats did not.
Montgomery had fantastic production at Iowa State, and many draft pundits figured he’d be long gone before the Bears got around to picking in third round. But with him still on the board late on day-two — within striking distance for general manager Ryan Pace — Pace sprung into action by trading up to secure a player that is tailor-made for Matt Nagy’s offensive scheme.
Pace also addressed the position with a good scheme fit in free agency when he gave Davis a two-year contract. The Bears also added Cordarrelle Patterson, who is a wide out by trade, but figures to get a few opportunities at running back.
Rounding out the position for the Bears is rookie Kerrith Whyte Jr., who has blazing straight line speed (4.37 forty), and second year pro Ryan Nall, who will try to being a different dimension, checking in at 232 pounds, to the roster.
In case you were wondering how the former Bears’ backs new teams were ranked, the Jaguars, who signed Cunningham, check in at 31st overall, and the Philadelphia Eagles’ foursome of Jordan Howard, Corey Clement, Miles Sanders, and Donnel Pumphrey are ranked 19th.