Training camp is scheduled for July 28, and for the first time in 18 years, the Chicago Bears won’t be in Bourbonnais. And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, fans won’t be allowed to attend practices at Halas Hall, either. With camp approaching, let’s take an early look at who’s on the team right now.
Today: Running backs
• 2019 stats: 242 rushes, 889 yards, 6 TD; 25 receptions, 185 yards, 1 TD; 66.6 grade from Pro Football Focus in 16 games
The Backups: Tarik Cohen, Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce, Napoleon Maxwell
What to Watch For:
Talk is cheap. Nevertheless, I’m on the lookout to see if Matt Nagy or any of his offensive assistants sharehow they plan to use Montgomery and Cohen more efficiently in 2020.
Montgomery received the 12th most touches among running backs last year, but his 1,074 scrimmage yards were the fewest of any back who got the ball as much as he did in 2019. That needs to change if the Bears offense is to get out from the bottom third of the league.
Cohen saw his touches, scrimmage yards, touchdowns, and overall production plummet in 2019. His 2019 stat line was worse than what he posted as a rookie when we were pounding the table for a coaching change that could get the most from him. It’s a contract year for Cohen, so we’ll keep an close eye on him as he works his way through camp.
We Really Like:
You gotta love the work ethic!
Montgomery has been working his tail off this offseason in an attempt to be better in 2020 than he was in 2019. Cohen vows to be better, too. His explanations as to what wrong wrong last year represent a sign of growth and maturity.
We Might Be Worried About:
What is Cohen’s role? Can undrafted rookie Artavis Pierce win a spot among the reserves? Will the Bears look at Cordarrelle Patterson’s Patriots tape and deploy him similarly to how he was used by Bill Belichick?
The Bears have a great tradition of running backs, but this current collection provides more questions and concerns than answers.
The Bears look prepared to run more 12 personnel, so Montgomery could see an increased work load in 2020. Better blocking and improved play-calling could yield Montgomery’s first 1,000-yard rushing season, but projecting what happens behind him is challenging.
Not having an established option behind Montgomery bothers me, and I can’t imagine Cohen becoming a workhorse back in a pinch. I don’t want to envision an offense reliant on Mitchell Trubisky (or Nick Foles) dropping back to pass.