After a rookie campaign that came off as disappointing, David Montgomery has transformed his body this offseason.
When the Chicago Bears took David Montgomery in the third round of the 2019 draft, fantasy football managers saw a sleeper. On the surface he got plenty of carries (242), but with 20 or more carries just four times and little use in the passing game (25 catches on 35 targets) there’s an argument he was underused.
Montgomery was among the league leaders in broken tackles last year, but behind a bad offensive line he was also near the bottom in yards after contact (1.9 yards per carry). A lack of explosive plays was noteworthy, with just five total gains (rushing and receiving) of 20-plus yards all season for him.
Any talk about a player getting in better shape during an offseason has to be taken with a grain of salt until he can be seen. “Best shape of my life” narratives are particularly thick during baseball spring training.
But a doctor that sees a lot of Bears’ players offered evidence of Montgomery’s offseason physical transformation.
Montgomery maintained almost his exact weight from 2019, a sure challenge in the midst of a pandemic without organized offseason work. He also reduced his body fat percentage by four percent.
So what does a leaner David Montgomery mean?
The Bears’ offensive line is still an issue. He also only played 57 percent of the offensive snaps last year, ceding the brunt of passing down work to Tarik Cohen.
Where a leaner and stronger Montgomery may make better hay is in the red zone. Workload in that area was not the issue last season, as he had 33 red zone carries and was one of 11 backs with more than a 60 percent share of his team’s red zone carries. Yet he only had six rushing touchdowns (all in the red zone), with five from the 5-yard line in. A lack of push from the offensive line surely didn’t help Montgomery’s red zone efficiency. But if he can combine a lower center of gravity (at 5-10) with more sheer power and agility, double-digit rushing scores is within sight this year.
It makes sense for Bears head coach Matt Nagy to make Montgomery the clear lead back. Time well tell if it happens, but Montgomery is clearly motivated to put a disappointing rookie season behind him.