Chicago Bears Training Camp Preview 2022: Running back

Chicago Bears RB David Montgomery is looking for a new contract but will there be a carries split with Khalil Herbert?

In a perfect world new Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus would follow through on the concept of open training camp positions battles, and let running backs David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert go head-to-head for the starting job.  Herbert would undoubtedly win the starting job, supplanting fan favorite Montgomery as the lead ball carrier for the Bears in 2022.  Herbert is simply the better running back for the Bears despite all of the good things that Montgomery has done as the start.

In his first four games as a starter behind a makeshift offensive line, Herbert put together a four-game stretch that Montgomery has only come close to once in his career.  Herbert racked up games of 18 carries for 75 yards, 19 for 97, 18 for 100 and 23 for 72 right out of the gate.  Montgomery has yet to show that level of consistency in his career and Herbert did it in the first games he started. Herbert was already dubbed a sleeper fantasy football choice in 2022.

In terms of overall talent Herbert shows better ability in the open field, better overall speed and break away ability and explosiveness through the hole.  Montgomery struggles to consistently make headway typically needing to break tackles and get yards after contact rather than avoiding contact all together.  Montgomery is exactly the type of running back that Bears fans covet, he’s humble, he works hard, he knows his Bears history and he loves contact and has a strong ability to break tackles.  ProFootballFocus rated Herbert 10 points better than Montgomery.  

Can Chicago Bears get an explosive threat at position?

All of those qualities that Montgomery possesses while admirable are not what the Bears need at RB.  They need a RB that is capable of the big play, and is a threat to take it the distance on every play.  Herbert’s 4.4 40-yard dash speed gives him the leg up over Montgomery’s 4.6 40-speed.

The Bears need a big-play threat, a player who can get those explosive plays of 20 yards or more on a game to game basis rather than twice a season.  A player who gets you yards after contact is admirable but it hurts his overall health as it did Montgomery.  Herbert will make places miss more often than Montgomery and as a result get bigger plays.

Herbert better fits the outside zone scheme that new offensive coordinator is implementing in Chicago.  Stretching a defense with speed and exploding through the hole is exactly the skills that Herbert possesses that make him the best runner within the Bears’ system.  That vision to cut back and explode through the hole is another example of what gives Herbert an edge in this training camp battle.

Herbert’s emergence is so beneficial that the Bears may be able to undermine Montgomery’s value on the free agent market.  So often it’s hard to overcome the stigma of replacing a player who has done everything right.  Montgomery is a grinder, the consummate professional who works hard to be a better player.

However all of that simply can’t make up for his lack of talent that holds him back from making teams take him seriously as a threat.  Herbert is the clear choice to be the Chicago Bears starter now and into the future.  Montgomery is the fourth quarter back that can wear a defense down if the Bears are in the lead.  Montgomery is the idea four minute offense back.  But in order to get to the lead, the Bears need to better utilize the threat that Herbert represents.

The question is, will Eberflus and Getsy make the obvious choice with their starting running back and not undermine the overall success of the offense with the feel good work hard player in Montgomery?  Montgomery has done nothing wrong to lose his starting job. However, in terms of overall value towards the Chicago Bears winning games in 2022, the choice is clear, Herbert should be the starter.

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