New Expectations Exist for David Montgomery
The running game has become a serious question mark for the Chicago Bears and head coach Matt Nagy over the past three seasons. Nagy is often criticized for his mismanagement of the ground game during certain points of close contests. According to an NFL.com article published recently, “Throughout his first three seasons as Bears head coach, Matt Nagy has often had to parry questions about his running game, or lack thereof, particularly after losses. The perception in Chicago is that the coach often meanders away from the ground attack at inopportune times.”
One of the players in the running back room who has been affected by this perception is David Montgomery. The number of touches he receives has fluctuated between 2019 and 2020, but Coach Nagy is hoping that the former Iowa State Cyclone will become a workhorse for the Orange and Blue of the Midway in the 2021 campaign.
“Depending on what the game is, what’s happened the last couple of years and why some of David’s carries —– which aren’t low —– haven’t been quite as high as a lot of guys get it into four-minute mode in the fourth quarter,” Nagy told SI.com. “That’s where they can get those extra four or five carries, which can bump them into the top five, you know, with 20 rushes a game. That’s our goal.”
With the NFL becoming more of a passing league in recent memory, fewer running backs are seen as workhorses who eat up a lot of carries. However, Montgomery did take the fourth-highest amount of touches in 2020, at 16.5 per game. The only ones who saw more action were Derrick Henry (23.6), Dalvin Cook (22.3), and Josh Jacobs (18.2).
However, while the inconsistency on the ground has plagued coach Nagy, he has high praise and hopes for his third-year running back.
“We want to have the lead so that we can give him the ball, so he has touches,” Nagy said. “Because you know from just seeing him run the football, that guy in four-minute mode it takes more than one guy to bring him down. He’s one of my favorite players on the team. I love his work ethic. He cares so much. He’s, I guarantee you every single day, he’s out here working. He wants to have a great year. He’s motivated.”
Nagy’s play-calling, however, will continue to draw criticism if there is more inconsistent quarterback play in 2021 between Andy Dalton and Justin Fields. But, like the current NFL, the memo seems to be that the pass will set up the run.
And the coach is solid on his sentiment that he doesn’t hate running the football.
“Not at all,” Nagy said. “I understand what city I’m in and where we’re at with Chicago and defense and running the ball. You have to be able to run the football in this league to be successful and set up the pass and that’s our goal is to get better in every area.”
Matt Nagy has drawn some criticism for his playcalling in Chicago over his first three years due to inconsistency running the ball, but if David Montgomery can step up and provide a breakout campaign in 2021, the Bears could be a serious contender in the NFC North this season.