In 2019, we saw amazing flashes from David Montgomery. The rookie running back was seen fighting for every yard behind the 25th ranked offensive line according to PFF. So what’s next for the second year back out of Iowa State?
What we know
David Montgomery came as advertised when the Chicago Bears selected him in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft. In his last season at Iowa State, he had 109 missed tackles forced. This was not only the highest amount in one season ever recorded by PFF for college ball, but also better than any season a pro has ever had.
His rookie campaign proved his ability to break tackles could translate to the NFL. In 2019, Montgomery broke a tackle once every 8.6 attempts, which was seventh in the NFL according to PFR. Unfortunately, poor line play meant he was met in the back field more often than not, where breaking tackles only means so much.
Mr Nice Guy
Pleasingly, Montgomery hasn’t let any of his success get in his head. After the team traded up and chose him with their first pick in the draft, he displayed his first sense of humility. While on the phone with Bears head coach Matt Nagy, he asked what he had to do in order to make the team.
When asked about the conversation, Nagy said he had to refrain from laughing at the question. Montgomery takes nothing for granted, he just puts his head down and works with no expectations.
Changes for 2020
Obviously, one of the most important things for a running back to succeed is the offensive line. While some fans are upset about the lack of personnel changes on the line this season, it is important to note one thing. This line is nearly identical to that of 2018, which ranked around the top 10 according to PFF.
Instead of revamping the entire line, Bears GM Ryan Pace brought in Juan Castillo as the teams new offensive line coach. He is highly regarded as one of the best line coaches in the NFL, and will elevate the play of this unit.
The Bears also controversially brought in former Seahawks first round pick, OL Germain Ifedi. While he hasn’t been great in the past, shifting him from tackle to guard could significantly help his play. We’ve seen this happen recently with Ereck Flowers, who was a poor tackle and became an exceptional lineman after transitioning to guard.
What to expect from David Montgomery in 2020
The combination of experience and (hopefully) improved line play will pay dividends for the Chicago Bears running game. After Matt Nagy notoriously said “I know we need to run the ball more, I’m not an idiot” it’s time for him to put his money where his mouth is. Montgomery ended the year with 242 carries – good for joint 13th in the NFL with fellow rookie Josh Jacobs (who started five more games). The way is clear for Montgomery to top 280 carries, and expect him to shoulder the load for this offense in 2020.
We should see Montgomery’s carries raise a significant amount in 2020. His play style alone speaks for him (see above). You never see him willingly step out of bounds, or give up on a play and his tough nosed running style has endeared him to the Bears fans. The second year back is hungry and ready to feast in 2020.