In this series of articles, our resident tape wizard Greg Cosell will take an in-depth look at some of the more interesting fantasy players for the 2020 NFL season. It’s a peek behind the curtain of the film room, as these are Greg’s raw, unfiltered notes he takes as he watches a player.
It wasn’t the type of season the Bears hoped for from rookie RB David Montgomery in 2019. The third-round pick got the overwhelming majority of the carries in the backfield, but looked like an indecisive plodder behind one of the game’s worst offensive lines. Will a new blocking scheme and a revamped coaching staff — including OC Bill Lazor and OL coach Juan Castillo — help Montgomery in 2020? Did his tape from 2019 show any promise, especially in his solid stretch run?
- The only six games in which Montgomery averaged 4.0 YPC or more — vs. Washington Week 3, vs. LA Chargers Week 8, vs. Detroit Week 13, vs. Dallas Week 14, vs. Kansas City Week 16, vs. Minnesota Week 17
- Montgomery is a methodical grinder who has more sustaining traits than explosive traits. He is not twitchy or sudden in his movement in confined space — he is not a home run hitter.
- Montgomery is a tough, physical, competitive inside runner who can gain hard yards. He showed strong contact balance and finishing traits.
- There were snaps in which Montgomery showed lateral agility and change of direction to find the crease at the point of attack, and also to make defenders miss at the second level.
- Montgomery showed some stop-and-start traits but did not show great balance off those quick lateral moves. He was not able to burst off his lateral moves.
- At his core, Montgomery is much more of a straight-line downhill, urgent, aggressive runner with power and contact balance when he can coil and explode into defenders.
- The more I watched Montgomery runs, the more I felt that he did not consistently run with good vision, and he is the kind of back with whom vision must be a high-level trait.
- What stood out in particular was the number of times Montgomery cut back to the unblocked defender on the back side.
- My sense is Montgomery is a volume I-back runner who needs carries and a quality OL to be most effective. He needs the point of attack to be clean – the Vikings game in Week 17 was a good barometer of Montgomery as a runner.
- The question is whether Montgomery is good enough to be a foundation back, but I do not think the Bears will see him quite that way.
- If you can create big plays in your passing game off your running game (the way the 49ers do) then Montgomery can be your foundation back – you have to make that kind of commitment to the run game for that to work, just as Kyle Shanahan does. It can’t be a week-to-week proposition.
- Run types on which Montgomery was featured: shotgun inside zone (some off zone read looks), shotgun split flow inside zone-duo, shotgun power, shotgun same-side power, shotgun trap, shotgun draw, split back power (Montgomery and Tarik Cohen in the backfield, with Cohen toss action to play side), I-back wham, I-back outside zone, I-back inside zone, I-back power, I-back iso lead, I-back outside zone, I-back toss pin-pull.
- All the runs for Montgomery were featured out of multiple personnel groupings and formations.
- The Bears featured significant snaps of six OL personnel in their run game. “Duo” was a featured run out of heavy personnel.
- The Bears used a tight end as the fullback when they lined up in the straight I — TE JP Holtz was predominantly the I formation fullback. The Bears often featured straight I out of six-OL heavy personnel, running outside zone and iso lead (predominantly to the weak side).
- Out of the straight I formation with Holtz at fullback, the Bears ran zone, gap scheme, and iso lead.
- Holtz was also used as an offset fullback in weak I and strong I formations. In that role, he was often used as an iso lead blocker.
- The Bears featured double -eam blocks on Montgomery inside runs as an I back and out of shotgun. Some of these runs looked like inside zone and some looked like duo.
- Overall, the Bears featured a multiple run game with Montgomery as an I back and offset in the shotgun, with multiple blocking concepts.
- Montgomery’s 55-yard run against the Chargers came on shotgun power. WR Allen Robinson motioned across the formation and was used as the initial kick-out blocker on the playside stacked LB in the gap-scheme concept – it was a nice wrinkle in a basic gap scheme power run.
- The game against the Chargers featured significant snaps with six OL personnel. It was a foundation of the run game and the Bears lined up in multiple formations out of six OL.
- What consistently stood out was the Bears OL was not overly physical. They did not generate a lot of movement, and that limited Montgomery’s production.
- The Bears ran iso lead weak concepts (away from the line-of-scrimmage TE) out of two-back sets (TE Holtz as the fullback) against defenses that featured “over” fronts as their front foundation. They ran gap scheme concepts to the strength of the defensive front with the 3-technique DT double-teamed.
- Montgomery ran a good mix of I-back runs and shotgun runs. It was almost an even split in 2019 – how will new OC Bill Lazor structure the run game?
- Montgomery was used in the pass game, not only on screens and flat routes, but also vertical routes from offset backfield alignment (seams).
- Montgomery caught the winning TD against the Lions in Week 13 from outside alignment in tight trips bunch.