As I watched the NFC-leading Chicago Bears get eviscerated by the Los Angeles Rams, I ran through the full gamut of emotions. I had been denying they were terrible for so long. After the first time the Bears tried running the football on 4th-and-1, my rage was white-hot. Why did they think they could run the football when they hadn’t been able to all game? Then I started thinking that maybe if they keep trying to establish the run, they will somehow find a way to make it work. By halftime, I was slowly weeping into my Anti-Hero (please sponsor us, Revolution. We love you). This morning, I woke up and I have finally accepted that the Bears offense is broken. Then I started thinking about David Montgomery. I have watched David Montgomery start 23 games for the Chicago Bears and I honestly have no idea if he is good. That is how dysfunctional the Bears offense has been. So I decided to take a closer look at Montgomery’s numbers to ask the question every Bears fan I know is wondering: Is David Montgomery good?
David Montgomery’s (Regular) Stats
Early in Matt Nagy’s career, the biggest issue with his offensive play calling was his commitment to the run. Or more specifically, his absolute devotion to throwing the football as many times in a game as was humanly possible. The good news is that in 2020, Nagy has definitely provided a more balanced offensive attack. On the season, David Montgomery has 96 rushing attempts, ranking him twelfth among all running backs.
The bad news is that while the Bears are committed to running the football, David Montgomery isn’t doing a particularly good job of it. While Montgomery is twelfth in rushing attempts, he ranks 21st in rushing yards (353 yards), 39th in yards per attempt (3.7 yards), and 29th in yards per game (50.4 yards). Simply put, David Montgomery is not terribly efficient.
David Montgomery’s (Advanced) Stats
There is no denying that for his usage, David Montgomery is not having a good year. The question is whether the fault lies with him or with the Chicago Bears. Looking at the Advanced Rushing numbers for David Montgomery paints a very different picture regarding his production. Before contact, Montgomery ranks thirty-first in the NFL with 145 yards. After contact, David Montgomery ranks thirteenth with 208 yards aftercontact. Of the top twenty running backs in attempts, only Frank Gore has a lower YBC per attempt than Montgomery.
What that tells me is that David Montgomery has to do a lot more to make up for the inefficiencies of his offense. This is further supported by his thirteen broken tackles, which ranks sixth among running backs, and his rush attempts per broken tackles, which is the fourth-highest among backs. David Montgomery is even fifth among all receivers in broken tackles, putting him among the league leaders in broken tackles.
The conclusion I’ve come to is simple: David Montgomery is a good football player in a pretty terrible situation. Using a fantasy lens to look at him, there is no reason you shouldn’t be starting Montgomery. He is a low-end RB2 in an offense where he gets a lot of opportunities. However, the Bears’ lack of investment in their offensive line over the years, coupled with Matt Nagy’s erratic playcalling, makes David Montgomery a guy you will play, but never feel happy about in your lineup.