David Montgomery was the unquestioned best offensive player the Chicago Bears had in 2021. Despite missing four games due to health setbacks, he still finished with 1,150 total yards and seven touchdowns. People have wondered how much better he could be if he were in a competent offensive system for two years. It never felt like Matt Nagy and his coaching staff understood how to use the running back correctly. They never stuck to the plan whenever they’d seemingly figure it out.
That is why there is some hope Matt Eberflus can change things. Luke Getsy is bringing in the outsize-zone offense he learned in Green Bay. It is a system made famous by top coaches like Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay. No position loves it more than running backs. When executed properly, it is masterful at crafting lanes to slip through. The first challenge for the staff is figuring out Montgomery’s strengths.
So they watched lots of film.
After some time, they seemed to arrive at a conclusion. Running backs coach David Walker has seven years of NFL experience. He’s worked with several players at the position in that time and watched many others. During his conversation with Bears media on Tuesday, he revealed a surprising conclusion. Montgomery strikingly resembles Indianapolis Colts All-Pro Jonathan Taylor outside of a clear speed discrepancy.
Walker: "Minus the 40-yard dash speed time … they are very similar in their styles."
(Taylor ran a 4.39 to Montgomery's 4.63.)
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) May 17, 2022
Indeed, the two share certain traits: their ability to hit the hole with urgency, strong contact balance, and knack for sniffing out the end zone. Taylor ran for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Many had him in the MVP race. While it might be farfetched to think Montgomery will ever reach that level, it’s clear the Bears feel he can be even better once he learns how to adopt certain tricks of the trade Taylor utilizes.
JONATHAN TAYLOR PUT THE NAIL IN THE ⚰️ pic.twitter.com/hdj9jdr5ny
— PFF (@PFF) December 19, 2021
I’m excited to see the type of season David Montgomery puts together this year.
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) May 27, 2021
David Montgomery has lots to prove this season.
Few players on the Bears roster are more inclined to have a good year than him. While he’s been their engine pretty much since his arrival in 2019, new factors are in play for this season. First is that Ryan Pace, the man who drafted him, is gone. New GM Ryan Poles has no ties to him and thus no sense of loyalty. Then there is the matter of contracts. Montgomery is entering the final year of his rookie deal.
That means he will be a free agent in 2023. He has to play well if he wants a new deal, and he knows it. Running backs always have a hard time getting paid in today’s NFL. It is even harder for ones under regimes that didn’t play any part in drafting them. The only way David Montgomery can secure his future is by having a standout season. Having to do that in an unfamiliar offense isn’t easy.
It is nice to see the coaches are working hard to help him.
The Bears offensive leader doesn’t need to be Jonathan Taylor. He only needs to incorporate what the Colts star does well into his own game. Speed concerns aside, it will make Montgomery a better player.