With all due respect, there aren’t many proven players on the Chicago Bears offense heading into 2022.
That’s not the case with David Montgomery, however.
Montgomery has quietly established himself as one of the NFL’s more productive running backs since the Bears drafted him back in 2019.
Montgomery’s 2,808 rushing yards since 2019 ranks eighth in the NFL among all running backs and is ahead of guys named Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, and Leonard Fournette. He even averages more rushing yards per game than Kamara, Fournette, and Saquon Barkley. Mongtomery’s 21 rushing touchdowns is tied for 11th, as well.
But the best part about Montgomery is he isn’t a one-trick pony. He’s a dual-threat back who can catch the ball, too. He ranks ninth among all running backs in total yards from scrimmage (3,732) and his 24 total touchdowns are 14th-most since 2019.
A lot of Montgomery’s production is the result of volume. His 835 touches over the last three seasons are fifth-most among all backs and his 19 touches per game are seventh-most.
While that’s a good amount of touches/hits to the body, Montgomery’s workload isn’t likely to change in 2022. The Bears are set up to play defense and run the ball this year, especially with second-year back Khalil Herbet, free agent addition Darrynton Evans, and sixth-round pick Trestan Ebner in the mix.
These circumstances will likely lead to a big year for Montgomery, thus leading NFL.com‘s Adam Rank to declare the fourth-year back as the Bears’ MVP in 2022.
Rank wrote the following in regard to Montgomery:
“Even as Fields makes strides, a lot comes down to the running game. Getsy, who previously served as Green Bay’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, had two running backs who topped 1,100 all-purpose yards last year.
That’s big for Montgomery and second-year back Khalil Herbert, who looked really good last season. But for the projected MVP, I’m leaning toward Montgomery, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Monty has 1,919 rushing yards since 2020, which is the seventh-most in the NFL over that span. The Bears were 3-2 when he had at least one rushing touchdown last year. They were 2-6 when he did not score.”
There are a few factors that need to go in Montgomery’s favor in 2022
As always, it starts up front when it comes to what Montgomery can and/or will do this year. The Bears offensive line has more questions than answers and how the front five plays will go a long way toward how he performs this year.
Then, there’s the amount of touches over Montgomery’s first three years. We all know how quickly and how suddenly a running back can get hurt. Especially when they receive a lot of touches. One doesn’t have to go too far back to find good examples: Just look at Derrick Henry last year and Christian McCaffrey over the last couple of years.
While the Bears will run the ball a lot, it’s fair to wonder just how much work the other backs see. How much will they actually cut into Montgomery’s touches, if at all? The Bears could mix the other guys more in order to rest Montgomery, or, they could just stay business-as-usual with Montgomery and pile on more touches through the other guys.
And then last but certainly not least, there’s Justin Fields and the Bears passing game. As we all know, a dysfunctional/ineffective passing game will allow defenses to focus more on the running game, which in turn will likely cause issues for Montgomery and the other backs. If Fields and co. don’t take the next step, it will make life that much harder for Montgomery.
There are a lot of things that need to work for Montgomery to have a successful year in 2022, but the one thing that’s for sure is he’ll get plenty of chances to show that he is in fact the team’s MVP.
You can check out Rank’s full column, here.
Featured image via Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports