What Does The Future Hold For The Bears Running Back Position

One of the highs for the Bears’ offense this season has been their running game this season. The Bears rank third in total rushing yards this season with 1025 in 6 games played, just behind the Cleveland Browns and New York. What separates New York and Cleveland from the rest of the league is their starting running backs. Browns running back Nick Chubb leads the NFL in rushing yards with 593 on 98 attempts, while Giants running back Saquon Barkley is second with 533 yards on 97 attempts.

With the Bears just behind these two teams in rushing, many would think that a Bears running back would be third in total rushing yards, but that isn’t the case. Instead, the Bears have gone a different route: splitting carries between David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. David Montgomery, the Bears starting running back, injured his ankle in week three, limiting his snaps ever since. The RB2 for the Bears, Khalil Herbert has done a great job filling in Montgomery’s role, rushing for 157 yards against Houston and 77 in New York. Montgomery returned from his injury the week later, but doesn’t look the same since his 122 yard game in Lambeau.

With Montgomery not being 100 percent, the question that arises is if Herbert should get more touches than Montgomery. Herbert didn’t play week one but still has 403 yards this season, averaging 6.4 yards per attempt. Montgomery, inactive for most of week three and all week four, is averaging only four yards per attempt with 246 total yards. Herbert’s stats easily stand out here more than Montgomery’s do. Clearly, the Bears splitting snaps between Montgomery and Herbert is working. However, with Montgomery in the last year of his contract and constantly battling injuries, I could see the Bears preparing for the future by giving Herbert the majority of carries.

With new General Manager Ryan Poles blowing up the team during the off-season, only a few players roster spots are safe. Even with the Bears’ 105 million dollar cap space, I could see them letting Montgomery walk in free agency. Khalil Herbert has proven that he can be a starting running back in the NFL. This would not be the first time the Bears have let their starting running back leave.

In 2019, the Bears traded starting running back Jordan Howard to the Philadelphia Eagles due to Tarik Cohen’s bigger role on offense. Replacing older running backs with younger running backs has worked well for the Bears in the past decade.

I think the Bears will follow this same formula after this season as well. Contending NFL teams have proven that the running back spot is not as valuable as it has been. With Ryan Poles looking to strengthen the offensive line, I think he understands that today’s running backs are replaceable.
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