David Montgomery’s 2020 season was a tale of two halves. Many factors played a role in his production throughout the season, much of which was out of his control. So, what exactly improved for Montgomery as the season went on, and will it carry over into next year?
2020 Season Review
The past season saw two completely different David Montgomery’s. In weeks 1-9, the Chicago Bears RB didn’t even crack the top 25 in PPG in PPR leagues, with a modest 12.3. A switch must’ve flipped soon after that, because in weeks 10-16 no running back was more productive than Montgomery (25.2 PPG).
The Offensive Line
The Bears were battling offensive line injuries all season long. It’s no coincidence that after their best lineman in James Daniels went down in week five, Monty saw his worst four game stretch of the season. It largely took until after the week 11 BYE for the Bears to figure things out, with a surprising solution in 2019 UDFA center out of Notre Dame; Sam Mustipher. Not only did Montgomery’s Y/A dramatically increase, but he was also RB1 for the remainder of the season. You could tell he was pretty elated about the change with his comments on Mustipher:
“You’d think he has been in the league 10, 11, 12 years the way he coaches out there. He just takes charge. He’s the general on the line, and [the other linemen] believe and buy in.”
On top of this, Chicago Bears IOL Cody Whitehair also played lights out after the BYE. From week 12 on, Whitehair was PFF’s third best offensive linemen in the league with an 88.9 overall grade.
Click here for rookie wide receiver’s review
The Game Plan
Additionally, we saw the RB’s role in the offense take a big jump. In weeks 1-9 Montgomery averaged 14.5 carries per game, with that number increasing to 19.3 the rest of the season. During a five-game stretch from week 12-16, Montgomery accumulated about half of his season total in rushing yards, helping him crack the 1,000 mark. In week 15 against the Minnesota Vikings, he had over 30 touches for the first time in his career.
2021 Season Outlook
With WR Allen Robinson likely leaving in free agency, David Montgomery will probably be the best weapon on the Bears offense in 2021. Pair that with uncertainty at the quarterback position, and Monty could very well end up being HC Matt Nagy’s best friend next year.
Not to mention, the line will be back to full health in 2021. The interior of the line being the best Montgomery has had, but the tackle position was the weakest link on the line. With the Bears all but set on upgrading it through FA or the draft, we should see every gap be a viable option in 2021. It was too often that we saw Monty have to improvise after being hit in the backfield or seeing no hole for him to run through.
What to expect
All of these components allow us to expect him to finish a solid RB1. If his monster five game stretch was extrapolated into a full season, he’d be looking at a 1,700 yard, 19 TD year. While production increasing to this level is certainly not something anyone should anticipate, a noticeable increase is likely. If David puts up 75% of those numbers, he’d be good for 1,270 yards and 14 TDs in 2021.
This would be an extremely good season for the young back, and it’s reasonable to believe he will land somewhere in that ballpark. Pair that with similar receiving stats to this year, and you get roughly 20 PPG and likely another top five finish, which is his absolute ceiling for the year. Consistency should also improve as having the ball in Montgomery’s hands is the Bears best option in 2021.