David Montgomery should be a key component of the Bears’ offense. In fact, he was just that in the early going when the team started rolling to start its season. But as the offense turned into a pass-happy endeavor with Nick Foles at quarterback, Montgomery’s production dipped as his carries took a slide.
I hoped Mitchell Trubisky’s return to the lineup would usher in a call-back to some of the early-season play-calling that was successful. And in an honest moment, I’d tell you I wanted to see this 30 times on Sunday Night Football:
As you can see in the video clip above, Montgomery does everything you want a good back to do. Montgomery uses his vision to find the best path, runs decisively with power through holes, and chews up yards. And in the case of that first game-breaking run, Montgomery takes what is given to him — and more!
Last Sunday’s game was one of Montgomery’s best games. He finished with 11 carries and 103 yards. And while that’s good, it nags me knowing it could have been better. Because when a guy is running that well, and your quarterback is who he is, then the more reliable playmaker should have the ball in his hands more often. I understand time, score, and game situation dictate much of the action. But one way to put a better fight is to use the running game to counter the opposition’s attempt to control the pace.
Montgomery ran for 57 yards on the second play from scrimmage, then had just five more carries in the first half and finished with 11 on the game. Take out the big run, and Montgomery still comes away with 4.6 yards per pop. Why wasn’t he featured more before the game got out of hand? After all, one way to keep the vaunted Packers offense off the field is by playing stall ball with a running back who can power through gaps and sustain drives.
More importantly, however, we should note what the offensive line did to create space for Montgomery to operate. This much-maligned group has so much at stake in the final five games of the season. Are the Bears better off with Cody Whitehair and James Daniels at guard with Sam Mustipher playing center? Can Alex Bars play his way into solidifying his depth spot? Is Germain Ifedi a short-term answer at tackle? These are worthwhile questions to ask down the stretch. And if we get answers to them, that would make it even better.
One way to get those answers is to feature Montgomery early, often, and more prominently than he was last time the Bears took the field.