David Montgomery: I ‘gotta keep trusting it’ despite run-game troubles

David Montgomery: I ‘gotta keep trusting it’ despite run-game troubles

David Montgomery runs the ball against the Rams on Monday. | Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

It will be hard for Sunday’s game — or its plan — to be more of a debacle than it was last year, when head coach Matt Nagy called a franchise-low seven rushing plays in a season-defining home loss.

The last time the Bears played the Saints, David Montgomery ran the ball only two times.

“Last year, you know, things just didn’t go as planned for us,” he said Thursday. “So this year we’ll have a better plan — just going out playing hard and having fun.”

It will be hard for Sunday’s game — or its plan — to be more of a debacle than it was last year, when head coach Matt Nagy called a franchise-low seven rushing plays in a season-defining home loss.

“I know we need to run the ball more,” Nagy said the next day. “I’m not an idiot.”

A year later, the Bears still can’t run the ball. Nagy’s play-calling remains suspect. And the verdict is still out on Montgomery, the versatile second-year running back who’s eclipsed 100 rushing yards in a game only twice.

Montgomery is blossoming as a pass-catcher with Tarik Cohen hurt — he has 25 catches for 184 yards after having 25 for 185 all last season — but the Bears’ run game is pointing south. Montgomery averaged 5 yards per carry over the Bears first two games — and, coinciding with quarterback Nick Foles replacing Mitch Trubisky, 3.1 yards per carry since.

“Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Montgomery said. “But we’re not far off, though.”

Like Nagy and Foles have done all year, Montgomery painted the Bears’ rushing offense as heading for a breakthrough — even though the team’s already-porous line could play Sunday without starting center Cody Whitehair, who missed his second-straight practice with a calf problem.

“It’s this close,” Montgomery said, holding his fingers an inch apart. “It’s always just that little piece — and this close. You’ve just gotta keep trusting it, keep going to work every day and understanding that it’s going to pop, something’s going to happen. We’ve just got to keep fighting. That’s all you can do.”

Montgomery said he needs trust — in the play, his path and where the hole will be.

“A lot of times I find myself, kinda like, going outside of the play trying to make stuff happen, when sometimes it’s best not to do,” he said

What must concern Nagy — who believes in Montgomery — is the potential for the Bears’ ugly run game to encourage, if not engrain, bad habits on the running back.

“I think where I can really improve is being able … just trusting it, instead of trying to do stuff on my own,” Montgomery said. “And just trusting the guys in front of me and that the play-call is going to be there and where my pads are going to be, are going to hit.”

It’s impossible to separate Montgomery’s rushing performance this season from the blockers in front of him. As proof, his fellow running backs haven’t done much better. Cohen averaged 5.3 yards per carry — roughly, what Montgomery did to start the season — before tearing his knee in Week 3.

The Cordarrelle Patterson running back experiment isn’t working — in the last four games, he’s run 10 times for 14 yards. On the year, he’s averaging 2.8 yards per carry. The Bears could promote former Pro Bowl running back Lamar Miller from the practice squad, but he would be just a situational runner.

That leaves Montgomery as the team’s workhorse.

“There isn’t anything you could ask him to do that he wouldn’t be ready to do,” coordinator Bill Lazor said. “He doesn’t say much and he gets it done. I would say it’s unbelievable amount of trust that we have in him.”

Now Montgomery needs to have that trust in each play — even when his blockers and play-callers give him reasons not to.

“Really I’ve got a lot of work to do …” Montgomery said. “Just going back and re-evaluating myself, so I can clean up ‘me’ first.”

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