Not much optimism surrounds the Bears this year, and deservedly so. Coming into this season the Bears will be led by Matt Eberflus, a former defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. National and local media alike were a little skeptical of the signing, considering a young QB like Justin Fields could be better suited with an offensive mind at the helm. Coupled with seemingly lackluster weaponry and a below average offensive line, it’s easy to see why many are worried about Justin Fields’ development heading into year two. And let’s not forget the Bears used their first two picks of the 2022 Draft on defensive backs. If we were to look at one bright side on this offense, it is undoubtedly the running back room. And it will be this running back room that will help Fields develop the most in his second year under center.
Spearheaded by David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, this duo will be tasked to alleviate the pressure of our sophomore quarterback. A quarterback’s best friend is not a security blanket TE, nor a speed freak receiver on the outside. It is a strong running game. Having an efficient running attack can set up many plays within this Getsy offense. Just look at this preseason, where Fields was utilizing play action and bootlegs off of fake zone stretch hand offs. When a defense can sit their linebackers back in coverage it becomes harder for a QB to decipher where the ball should go. If you get those linebackers to play up to support the run, it creates that much more field for a QB to observe and make easy completions. The second year play calling surrounding Fields should be focused on getting these linebackers to bite.
Montgomery will be the lead back this year. Throughout his first three seasons, Monty has averaged 63 yds/game with 24 total touchdowns. For a third round pick, these stats are pretty impressive. Coming into his fourth season, Monty needs to impress this new regime if he wishes to continue his career in Chicago. Monty will more than likely be taking the majority of the first and second down snaps. He is a very shifty back with good ability to find openings created by the offensive line. While he may not have elite straight line speed, he has plenty of agility to make defenders miss at the second level. Montgomery can also be effective out of the backfield in the screen or check down situations.
Herbert on the other hand is the back I am excited about. He figures to be a nice change of pace back for the bears this year. He has also shown he can be the lead back as evidenced by the Seattle game last year should Montgomery be injured. Herbert, who may not have the awareness Monty has, definitely possesses greater athleticism. He can be great in situations where speed is needed or in a two back set. Last season, Herbert was primarily used as a kick returner and third down back. During his rookie campaign, Herbert rushed for 433 yards including two touchdowns. As a former 6th round pick, Herbert definitely impressed last season and he will look to build off his solid rookie season. Herbert could potentially give the front office a lot to think about this off season if he continues to develop in his second season.
However, this season is all about the development of Justin Fields. Fields will need his two backs to step up this year and take some of the pressure of his arm or legs. Questions remain littered across this offense, but one question that has already been answered is the running game. Montgomery and Khalil Herbert will need to make sure those questions stay answered.