All everybody talks about regarding the new Chicago Bears offense is Justin Fields. They want to know how it will benefit the young quarterback. That is only natural. That position drives the NFL. However, anybody that has learned about the history of Luke Getsy’s new wide zone scheme will understand the reality. At its core, this system is meant to benefit running backs the most. That is why David Montgomery should be talked about more often.
Of the top seven rushing seasons in NFL history, two were produced by the wide zone offense. Terrell Davis in 1998 and Chris Johnson in 2009. It has produced a 1500-yard rusher in the past 25 NFL seasons 11 times. It made stars out of supposed nobodies like Alfred Morris, Justin Forsett, and Arian Foster. This system can make a 1,000-yard rusher out of almost anybody when executed the right way.
So imagine what it might do for Montgomery.
He spent his first three seasons in Matt Nagy’s offense, a poor man’s version of the Kansas City Chiefs system that has never been known for highlighting the running back position in the past. It was always meant to accent the quarterback. Yet the former 3rd round pick still averaged 936 yards and seven touchdowns over those three years.
Imagine what he can accomplish in a scheme known to be among the most running back-friendly in pro football. While his yardage could see a spike in 2022, history shows that isn’t the stat people should watch moving forward. Everything points to Montgomery scoring a lot more touchdowns this season based on available data.
David Montgomery could double his touchdown total.
Forsett was the perfect example of the wide zone turning a nobody into somebody. He was a journeyman his entire career, landed under Gary Kubiak in Baltimore, and made the Pro Bowl.
It seemed like the previous coaching regime didn’t know how to use Freeman as a rookie. Kyle Shanahan stepped in that first year and made him a Pro Bowler.
Gurley was a top 10 pick for the Rams, so he was already good. Sean McVay just made sure to utilize him more often. Especially in the red zone.
Another case of a late round pick flashing promise with the previous regime but never getting proper usage. Matt Lafleur steps in with the wide zone, and bang.
This is a small sample size, but it tells a consistent story. Every single running back listed saw their touchdown total spike the first season they played in the wide zone system. Based on the data available, the increase was an average of 7.2 touchdowns. If that holds for Montgomery, he stands to score 14 touchdowns in 2022. The primary way this could happen is greater usage in the red zone.
When Jones scored his 16 touchdowns in 2019, most came on carries from the opposing 10-yard line or in. Running backs got 24 carries in that area this season. Jones got 19 of them. Expect a similar approach for David Montgomery. Almost every time they get inside the 10, he will get the football. If the offensive line executes according to the system’s demands, the result will be a touchdown.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Montgomery is one of the best tackle-breaking running backs in the NFL. Giving him the ball near the end zone should be circled at the top of the play sheet for every game. Now he’s in a system that can maximize that.