February 08, 2023


Top 25 most important Bears in 2021: No. 9 David Montgomery

The Bears hope Montgomery picks up where he left off in 2020

Leading up to Bears training camp in late July, Shaw Local is counting down the top 25 most important Bears for the 2021 season.

What makes one player more important than another? That’s subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?

Justin Fields might not be the best player on the Bears in 2021 (or maybe he will be?), but he certainly is among the most important.

No. 9 David Montgomery

Position: Running back

NFL Experience: 3rd year

Looking back: Considering the struggles the Bears running game went through between Week 4 and Week 10, it’s rather remarkable that running back David Montgomery finished tied for fifth in the NFL with 1,070 rushing yards. He was also one of only four running backs with 1,000 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards (joining Jacksonville’s James Robinson, Green Bay’s Aaron Jones and Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook). Between Weeks 4-10, the Bears failed to reach 65 rushing yards as a team in six out of seven games.

It speaks to how strong Montgomery finished the 2020 season, and it should make Bears fans drool at the thought of what that could look like over a full season. Montgomery’s best games came after the Week 11 bye, with 95 or more rushing yards in four of six games and eight total touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving).

Looking forward: The final six regular season games in 2020 were a high point in Montgomery’s young career. He has the potential to be a bruising back in this league. The hope is that the Bears can unleash a similar rushing attack from the get-go in 2021. A lot of that is going to be dependent upon the offensive line, which will include a rookie left tackle in Teven Jenkins. It’s also going to be reliant on the play caller – head coach Matt Nagy – committing to the run game. In the past, he has sometimes strayed away from the rushing attack.

No matter who is playing quarterback, the Bears need a productive running game. Every successful NFL offense finds ways to move the ball on the ground. If Montgomery stays healthy and the line gives him holes to work with, this could be his best NFL season yet. If not, the Bears offense could be in for another difficult season in 2021.

In case you missed it: Previous installments of the top 25

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.