Earlier this offseason it seemed as though several publications were sleeping on the impact David Montgomery had on the Chicago Bears last year, and also on his prospects for the 2021 season. Montgomery even referenced the disrespect he feels was thrown his way in a recent mic’ed up segment on the team’s YouTube channel.
Montgomery being ranked in the bottom third of NFL starting running backs has him working out with a chip on his shoulder, but I get a sense that the narrative surrounding him is starting to change.
I never bought a ticket for the Montgomery Hype Train. It felt like a rough ride inside a dull Chicago offense in search of itself. From Week 12 on, though, the young runner morphed into something special, averaging 99.7 ground yards per tilt. He’s a help through the air, too, hauling in 24 catches over that stretch and 54 grabs on the year. It’s no small chore making the Pro Bowl as a back, but if Justin Fields can flip the switch under center (after we collectively tolerate Andy Dalton for a week or two), this offense has a shot to be fiery.
When I initially saw the article I assumed their pick was going to be inside linebacker Roquan Smith, but Montgomery is a bold choice. The NFC has some talent at tailback (Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alvin Kamara to name a few), so Montgomery will likely need some splash plays to get on the voters radar. That and for the Bears to win some games.
The praise for D-Mo from Doug Farrar from the USA Today’s Touchdown Wire is at a different level entirely, as he lists him as the 7th best running back in the game today.
Montgomery has the eighth-most rushing yards in the NFL over the last two seasons (1,959), becoming an underrated star in a Bears offense that has quite obviously suffered at the quarterback position. One hopes that the addition of Justin Fields will accentuate what Montgomery can do as a runner and a receiver; it can’t be much worse than it’s been before, and Andy Dalton is nothing but a short-term option. Last season, Montgomery gained 1,101 yards and scored eight touchdowns on 259 carries; he also forced 54 missed tackles (the fourth-highest number in the league), gained 800 of his yards after contact (the fifth-most in the league), and had six carries of 15 or more yards. When you talk about running backs who have done more with less, you can start right here.
While both analysts mention Chicago’s spotty QB play from last year, I think it’s just as important to point out their issues along the offensive line as well. After last year’s bye week the Bears managed to stabilize the five guys up front and Montgomery’s effectiveness picked up. The Bears weathered early season injuries and COVID list stays from James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, Bobby Massie, Jason Spriggs, and Lachavious Simmons.
The Bears made a point to upgrade their o-line this offseason, and barring another rash of injuries this unit should be improved from the 2020 season, which could help Montgomery to his best season yet.
What are your expectations for Montgomery as he enters his third season in Chicago?