© Matt Cashore | 2019 Aug 8
The Bears are finally set to unveil several new features of their offense Thursday night vs. the Green Bay Packers, from a new-look interior offensive line to another triple threat alongside Tarik Cohen in Cordarrelle Patterson to, they hope, Mitch Trubisky’s mastery of level 202 in Matt Nagy’s scheme.
Still, no new element will be introduced to greater anticipation among Bears fans and even teammates than top pick David Montgomery. The 73rd overall pick in April’s draft and new feature attraction in Chicago’s backfield, Montgomery was supposed to “get a fair amount of carries” in the preseason because his coaches “need to see where he’s at.”
Fast-forward five weeks and six total preseason touches — several of them scintillating — and, well, apparently Matt Nagy saw everything he needed to see. Now it’s your turn.
“He’s in a good place right now, he hasn’t wavered at all with the offense,” Nagy said. He’s taken it in, he’s done everything that we have asked him to do. … We are all really fired up to get going and he’s a part of the deal.”
Cohen thinks those among the record gatherings in Bourbonnais who got their first taste of Montgomery’s ability might well wind up having similar impressions as those who watched Montgomery as a back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher and tackle-breaking machine in the Big 12.
“I feel like they only started to see what he’s about by coming to practice and in the preseason game that he played in,” Cohen said. “He’s a very hard runner and he’s going to carry over the things that he was good at in college to the NFL.”
Of course, the difference in atmospheres between Jack Trice Stadium and Soldier Field figures to be quite stark. But Taylor Gabriel has seen enough from the rookie not only on the practice field but in meetings to believe it won’t be too big a stage for the rookie.
“You don’t see too many rookies in a big room of quarterbacks, wide receivers and coaches asking questions. They’re scared to ask questions,” Gabriel said. “And if he has a question, he’s going to ask it. So that means he’s really kind of comprehending anything, trying to digest everything and get everything right so he can stay on the field.”
Staying on the field, after all, is largely why Montgomery is here. Of course Cohen is an elite receiving back, and we’d fully expect to see them in the formation simultaneously a good amount this season. But the Bears think in addition to having more juice in a run game that finished only 27th in the NFL in average yards per carry, they’re more unpredictable with Montgomery than they were last season with Jordan Howard because of the rookie’s three-down ability — including as a blocker, where he acquitted himself well in camp.
“He is awesome. He’s a guy, similar to, we’re very lucky of the caliber of guys that we have to work with on a daily basis, but he’s got a great attitude, he’s soft spoken, he’s got a kind of a quiet confidence about him in every way,” explained offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. “He’s also kind of closet-hilarious. He’ll come off and maybe pick up Roquan Smith in a pass protection drill and kind of be like, ‘Hey, you see that?’ or something you don’t really expect the first time you talk to him, because he’s a quiet, humble real guy. But very excited about his future.”
So far only the quiet and humble side has come across in our visits with Montgomery. And that’s OK.
“I’m just going to go out there and be the best me I can be,” Montgomery told PFW on Monday. “Don’t try and do too much. Don’t try to do too little. Just be me.”
Did Montgomery’s limited preseason work fully prepare him for the inevitable increase in speed and energy he’s poised to see and feel come Thursday.
“That I don’t know, but I’m sure it’ll be pretty exciting,” he said. “Everyone will be pretty antsy. It’ll be fun.”