There’s been a lot of talk since the 2019 season ended about the Chicago Bears fixing their running game. Issues with the coaching, the scheme, the blocking, and the running backs all attributed to the team finishing in the bottom third of most rushing statistics a year ago.
Chicago’s lead back, David Montgomery, did appear to play better as his rookie year wore on, but he’ll need to flash more improvement in 2020 to get the Bears offense back on track in 2020.
In this latest WCG Round Table question, we asked our staffers to give us their expectations for Montgomery in year two. For comparisons sake, here’s what he did as a rookie; In 16 games he had 242 rushing attempts for 889 yards (3.7 ypc), with 6 rushing touchdowns, and he had 25 receptions for 185 yards and a receiving TD.
Most of have Montgomery trending up in 2020 and here’s what we had to say...
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: I think he’ll be a more efficient runner, but I don’t think he’ll see a big uptick in carries. If he can average 4.2 yards per carry while getting 240 rushes, that’ll give him 1,008 yards on the ground. I do see him getting a few more catches though as Matt Nagy gains comfort in moving him around the offense a bit more.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter: I expect him to be the lead back, and a damn good one at that, for Matt Nagy’s offense. Personally, I felt it was stupid to try and force some rotation between Mike Davis, David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, and occasionally Cordarelle Patterson. I knew that rotation would fail from the get-go; moreover, RB committees are a waste of time in my personal coaching philosophies. They’re a dead giveaway to defensive minded coaches as every player is assigned a package of plays instead of being entrusted with the whole playbook.
Just give Montgomery the ball and let him do his work. And I mean give him the ball, more than 7 times in a game. He’s ready to be a top back if the coaching staff removes their short leash on him. With the additions of more run-minded coaches like Bill Lazor and Juan Castillo, I think we’ll see David Montgomery’s potential unleashed in 2020.
Ken Mitchell: 1,600 yards from scrimmage, 1,100 rushing and 500 receiving
Sam Householder: I think a lot will depend on what impact Juan Castillo has in the running game. If the offensive line plays better and can be more in sync then I think he could be a big part of the offense. A lot of people are down on him from last year but I still think the arrow is pointing up as he’s more acclimated to the NFL and the OL hopefully opens more holes.
Aaron Leming: If Juan Castillo is the savior the Bears are expecting him to be, I would expect Montgomery to have a breakout season in 2020. While it’s always hard to put numbers to running backs, I do think a sizable jump in production is reasonable.
I’d expect something like 245 carries, 1,100 yards and around 4.5 yards-per-carry. As a receiver, I would say 30-35 catches for 250-300 yards would be more than acceptable as well. Ultimately, I think somewhere around 1,300-1,400 yards of total offense would be a very good sophomore year for Montgomery.
Robert Schmitz: I think Montgomery will take a step forward, but not quite as far a step forward as others have suggested — Montgomery legitimately struggled with vision when finding “optimal yardage”, and not all of it was due to his offensive line. With that in mind, I think that an influx of running lanes from Juan Castillo’s ground game (even if that just means going from “very few” to “some”) should help Montgomery find a stronger rhythm in 2020 but that vision issues will hold him back from a true breakout season. Hopefully I’m wrong.
Jacob Infante: Given that the Bears don’t have any other running backs who will likely take considerable carries away from him, I’m expecting Montgomery to put up significant numbers in 2020. Whether those numbers will be efficient depends on his development as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL game, but I expect him to carry the ball more times than his rookie campaign, when he finished 13th in the league with 242 carries. I expect some sort of improvement this season, so 1,000 yards is definitely doable. The play of his offensive line could prevent him from making it into that top tier of running backs, though.
Robert Zeglinski: David Montgomery strikes me as an average running back when it comes to production. For one, I don’t think he’s a special player because he breaks a few tackles on 5-7-yard runs every now and then. That’s reductive, and frustrating. For the other, the Bears don’t have the offensive line to let him thrive and look like a star. In an ideal scenario for 2020 (or whenever), I could see 1,300 scrimmage yards and a few touchdowns. His rookie season at the easiest position in football to pick up and play was too disappointing for me to be comfortable expressing glowing results. A ho-hum man in the backfield, and that isn’t stated in an ironic sense.
Patti Curl: 260 carries for 1108 yards 8 TDs and a long of 85, 43 receptions for 363 yards 3 TDs, 2 fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 4 tackles, 1 extra point kicked.
Jack Salo: It Depends... Does JP Holtz make the team and they make the I-Formation more than just an experiment? If yes, then I expect double-digit touchdowns on the season and at least 700 yards. But it’s Matt Nagy, so I’m assuming Holtz is out and Cohen-Montgomery see the field together, so I expect Monty to get 500 yards but be forgotten in the red zone with only 4-5 TDs.