Gil Brandt is a recently enshrined Hall of Fame executive with decades of experience – which is why I find myself at attention whenever he has something to say about a young Bears player (presumably) on the rise. For example … Brandt recently shared his thoughts on 10 rookies after the first set of preseason games, and …
… it’s full speed ahead on the David Montgomery hype train: “In Chicago’s preseason opener, Montgomery looked like the second coming of Matt Forte, contributing on the ground (three carries for 16 yards) and through the air (three catches for 30 yards),” Brandt wrote, via NFL.com.
Brandt also made note of how Montgomery’s balanced and well-rounded skill-set fits Nagy’s offense better than two-time 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Howard. He even hinted at Montgomery getting a chance to become the Bears’ RB1, which would move Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis into complementary roles within the offense.
Of course, Brandt wasn’t the only ex-talent evaluator who Montgomery made a strong impression on last week.
NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks shared grades for rookies after preseason Week 1, and to no one’s surprise, Montgomery found himself at the top of the class. Montgomery earned an “A” grade from Brooks as he compiled 46 scrimmage yards on six total touches, with the highlight being this nifty 7-yard touchdown run.
Brooks described Montgomery’s running style as “silky smooth” and his pass-catching ability as “dynamic,” and even suggested the Bears’ third-round pick looked like a starting-caliber running back. That’s pretty awesome. Then Brooks went on to offer up the idea that Montgomery could be a sleeper choice for the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award. And while Montgomery would have to out-produce the likes of Kyler Murray and those who were drafted in the rounds ahead of him, making a strong impression in the eyes of a respected analyst and former scout is one way to catch our attention.
If the Bears have successfully snagged a starting running back in the third round, it would be more than a welcome addition. And if Montgomery’s presence in the lineup will allow the offensive braintrust to better deploy a playmaker like Cohen or a bruising runner such as Davis, then the team (as a whole) will be better for it.
With that in mind, I’m starting to think that Bears rookie Montgomery is playing himself out of the immediate rotation … and that might not be a bad thing.
Most players use the preseason to play their way into the lineup. But because Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy dislikes the exhibition slate of games more than anyone, a strong showing in a preseason game could be an escape route of sorts. Last year, Nagy held out his starters and regulars from the last two preseason games in a show of how much he values the health of his most important players for Week 1 of the regular season. This season, Nagy has taken another step away from using the preseason to gear his team up for the games that matter by orchestrating a game-like scrimmage that featured piped-in crowd noise and the playing of “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” after scores.
If Montgomery is making this strong of an impression on the likes of Brandt and Brooks, it would not be surprising if Nagy and the Bears’ decision-makers felt similarly. And if that happens to be the case, then there is a good chance we won’t see Montgomery suit up again until Week 1.