Montgomery had 141 yards of total offense and two touchdowns against the Cardinals last week. | AP Photos
Montgomery remains a pillar for the Bears, who have endured a steady stream of frustration this season.
David Montgomery is tough to figure out.
The Bears’ dysfunctional offense has clouded the view of how valuable he is at running back as coach Matt Nagy veered from having minimal interest in the ground game to making it the priority. The offensive line has been shaky throughout his career, and quarterback play has been a problem, too.
It’s equally difficult to get a read on Montgomery’s personality. He showed up as a soft-spoken third-round pick from Iowa State who appeared nervous and said very little to the media, then blossomed into one of the team’s best talkers.
Just a few days ago, after another dispiriting Bears loss, he delivered a passionate post-game press conference highlighted by the line, “I ain’t got no quit in my blood,” and a vow that he’d keep the rest of the team equally determined.
But after practice Friday, with his sights on the game against the Packers on Sunday, Montgomery had almost nothing to say.
When asked about a challenging week in which he missed practice time because of shoulder, gluteal muscle and groin injuries, Montgomery replied smugly, “Felt good,” and looked around for the next question.
That was how it began, and it pretty much stayed that way. Here’s a sampling of Montgomery’s comments:
— On how quarterback Justin Fields looked in practice despite a rib injury: “Good.”
— On the Packers’ run defense: “They’re good.”
— On how much treatment he needed for the injuries this week: “A lot.”
— On wide receiver Darnell Mooney’s approach to the job: “He happens to be really good.”
— On what he loves most about his job: “I get to play football.”
Montgomery wrapped his five minutes by chiding reporters with, “You all got to give me better questions than that. Thank you all. Next time I’m gonna ask you all the questions.”
Like everything else with Montgomery, the scene was enigmatic.
The media has mostly praised his powerful, relentless running style as well as his candor. Before the season, he enjoyed a rollicking press conference in which he challenged one reporter to bowling and humorously gave instructions on the proper way to eat a donut.
He even went so far as to thank the media for how it has treated him.
“You showed me the utmost respect, so what would it be like for me not to do the same for y’all?” he said heading into the season opener. “That’s kind of how I look at it.”
It’s unclear what changed, but little has gone right for the Bears since then and perhaps those stumbles have hardened Montgomery.
They got blown out twice in the first three weeks, Montgomery suffered a significant knee injury in Week 4 and now they sit 4-8 with playoff elimination looming.
Montgomery missed four games with a sprained knee, which dampened his chances of a repeat 1,000-yard season. He had two 100-yard games before the injury, but none since — though he did put up 90 yards rushing and 51 yards receiving and two touchdowns against the Cardinals.
He now has seven 100-yard rushing performances in 39 games, which ranks 13th in the NFL since he entered the league. He also has 20 games in which he averaged fewer than 3.6 yards per carry.
The rushing attack requires many contributions beyond the running back himself, so it’s difficult to ascertain how great of an opportunity Montgomery has had. Surely his stats would be much more impressive had he been drafted by the Cowboys or Patriots.
But Montgomery would be the last one to use that as an excuse. Quirkiness aside, the consensus within the Bears is that he embodies accountability, leadership and grit.
It’s why Nagy picked him as a captain for the opener and for this momentous game. Amid a season of turmoil and ongoing offensive struggles, the mysterious Montgomery is still one of the Bears’ most dependable players.