David Montgomery carries a big chip on his shoulder these days. Here is somebody coming off his first 1,000-yard season. He had over 1500 yards total from scrimmage and scored nine touchdowns. Yet people still talk about him as an afterthought. His indignation was apparent during a recent video of Chicago Bears practice. One that saw him describe to head coach Matt Nagy how outraged he is not even making the top 20 in some rankings.
Not everybody is like that though. Some are onto just how good Montgomery actually is. Former Pro Bowler Maurice Jones-Drew put him at 13th in the league and expect the third-year back to take an even bigger step forward in 2021. None though are on board the Montgomery bandwagon than Doug Farrar of The Touchdown Wire. On his list of the 11 best running backs in the league, he had the Bears’ starter sitting comfortably at 7th.
Ahead of Christian McCaffrey.
“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…
…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.”
It would appear the Bears finally caught on to what they might have towards the end of last season. After their bye week, they reconfigured the offensive line and reinstated the outside zone blocking scheme they dabbling in early in the year. The results were hard to dispute. He finished with 598 yards rushing and seven touchdowns over the final six games. Easily the best stretch of his career.
Then this offseason they seemed to lean even further into that identity by adding Teven Jenkins in the draft. An offensive tackle known for his powerful and nasty run blocking. Combine that with the return of James Daniels and this front has a chance to be pretty formidable in that regard this season. A premium opportunity for Montgomery to have his best season yet.
David Montgomery wants the ball. Will Nagy give it to him?
That is the bigger question many should keep in mind. Don’t forget the Bears weren’t idle at running back this offseason either. Not only is Tarik Cohen coming back. He’s joined by new arrivals in Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert. One a former Super Bowl hero and the other a draft pick. Knowing Nagy as a play caller, it is a safe assumption he’ll try to install some sort of rotation that gets three or even four of them involved.
While that is great for keeping everyone fresh, it might not sit well with David Montgomery himself. He is out to prove he is one of the best running backs in football. He can’t do that unless the Bears feed him the ball. It is one of those situations that goes against the common approach of today’s NFL. The backfield committee is much more widespread than the true featured back.
Will Nagy acquiesce to his wishes?
That will likely depend on how he performs. If it’s apparent Montgomery is running hot early in games, the Bears head coach may just end up continuing to go with him. That is the key with Nagy. If he gets the sense you’re not starting well, it won’t take him long to go away from you. This is probably why Montgomery has developed a growing reputation for strong starts.