Amid the rubble of the historically disappointing performance of the Bears’ offense in a 10-3 loss to the Packers on Thursday night was one tiny, barely discernible gem — rookie David Montgomery looks like he’s for real.
The analytics might or might not confirm it, but in just seven touches, the eye test made it pretty clear that Montgomery is the Bears’ best running back and worthy of a greater share of the load. Officially, the Bears went into this season with former
Seahawk Mike Davis and Montgomery as equals, along with wild card Tarik Cohen in the backfield. Davis started against the Packers and had five carries for 19 yards and six receptions for 17 yards. But already you can see the path toward Montgomery becoming the guy.
It was hardly a prolific night for the third-round draft pick from Iowa State. He had six carries for 18 yards and one reception for 27 yards. But even that small sample gave Montgomery a chance to show he’s the “better fit” Nagy was looking for in his offense.
Is he the next Matt Forte? It’s still too early to tell. Forte stunned everybody, including Bears fans, with a 50-yard touchdown run on the fourth carry of his NFL career in a victory against the Colts in 2008. Montgomery’s fourth NFL carry also was his most impressive: a six-yard gain in which he ran wide left, cut upfield, moved around his own blocker and overcame a stumble to avoid a tackle by Packers linebacker Blake Martinez to get the first down.
But while Forte’s breakthrough run was just the start against the Colts — he finished with 23 carries for 123 yards — Montgomery’s best run was about the end of his night. He had just three more touches, though the 27-yard catch of a ball thrown behind him that got the Bears out of a first-and-15 hole showed off his Forte-like ability.
Forte, a second-round draft pick, averaged 21 carries in his first eight games in the NFL. It seems like only a matter of time before Montgomery gets a Forte-like workload, and after Thursday night’s offensive meltdown, it may come sooner rather than later. But Nagy made it pretty clear that Montgomery isn’t ready for that.
“You would like to do that. To the general fan, that would be great,” Nagy said. “The hard part is . . . a rookie coming in and learning, there’s a lot of intricacies to our offense, with rules and assignments. Not just with running the ball, but in pass protection and running routes.
“So we’re kind of easing him into it. I know everyone wants instant gratification and wants the great fantasy stats right away in Week 1. We want production. I love the kid. I think the kid’s going to have a great future. But there’s going to be a little bit of wait here, a balance as we figure out what’s best and how to use him, along with Mike and Tarik.”