Before Jordan Howard ever took a snap in head coach Matt Nagy’s offense, questions surfaced if he would fit in the new scheme.
Howard finished the 2018 season with 250 rushing attempts, 935 yards and 3.7 yards per carry — all career lows.
And after a season with Nagy, those questions still remain.
Nagy spoke to reporters in Indianapolis last Wednesday, and his comments don’t give reassurance that Howard’s playing style will be a fit moving forward.
“With our identity as an offense, it’s just not an offense where you’re going to get 25-30 carries necessarily all the time or every game where you can expect that,” Nagy said.
The 2018 Coach of the Year also went on to say what he is looking for in a running back.
“When you’re dealing with running backs for us in this offense, you want to be able to have a guy that has really good vision, you know can make guys miss,” Nagy said. “At the same time, there’s that balance being a hybrid of being able to make things happen in the pass game too, but yet to where you’re not one dimensional, and that’s not easy.”
Whether supporters of the “Jordan Howard” fan club want to admit it or not, it seems that Howard’s days as a Bear are numbered, and the time for his successor is drastically approaching with the NFL Draft just 51 days away.
The Bears’ first pick won’t come until the third round (No. 87 overall), and, obviously, there is no telling which running backs will be available when the Bears are on the clock, but if Iowa State’s David Montgomery is on the board, then the Bears must draft him.
Montgomery finished his junior season with 257 carries for 1,216 yards (4.7 average) and 13 touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 157 yards. He also was named a first-team all-Big 12 selection by the Associated Press.
As a comparison, NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein for NFL.com wrote that Montgomery’s comparison is none other than Kareem Hunt. Looking at what the two running backs did in college, Hunt had far more rushing attempts (782), yards (4,945), avg (6.3) and touchdowns (44) in his four-year career at Toledo than what Montgomery did in his three years at Iowa State: attempts (624), yards (2,925), avg (4.7) and touchdowns (26).
The two running backs did post similar numbers in the receiving game, though. Hunt caught 73 passes for 555 yards and one touchdown in his college career, and Montgomery caught 71 passes for 582 yards.
Although Hunt and Montgomery have similar receiving stats, it is how they play the running back position that truly reflects the similarities between the two, and this is why Montgomery is such an enticing prospect for the Bears’ offense. Plus, Montgomery doesn’t have the off-field issues that Hunt has.
Nagy wants a running back that “has really good vision” and one that “can make guys miss.”
Well, Montgomery fits those qualifications perfectly.
Last season against Baylor, Montgomery showcased his ability to make something out of nothing. Instead of running right, where the play was intended to go, the savvy RB saw there was nobody to his left and accelerated outside to gain 21 yards, despite facing a loaded box.
On this play against Oklahoma last year, Montgomery had nowhere to go on this third-and-2 run, but he trusted his vision and bounced outside to keep the Cyclones’ offense on the field.
Montgomery has an act for making guys miss, and during his sophomore season, he set a record with his 108 forced missed tackles according to Pro Football Focus. In his junior season, Montgomery had the most missed tackles per rushing attempt among running backs with 0.39, which was 0.03 more than FAU’s Devin Singletary.
Against West Virginia, defensive back Keith Washington gave his best attempt at grabbing air after Montgomery put a move on him to seal the victory for Iowa State.
In the 2017 matchup at Oklahoma, the Sooners played great defense on this play. The unblocked defender off the edge had Montgomery for a potential tackle for loss, but the Cyclone planted his left foot, evaded the tackler and ran for a first down.
Nagy mentioned that being a “hybrid” is a quality he wants in a running back. In 2017 against Oklahoma, Montgomery posted a career high in receptions (7) and yards (89). When Montgomery gets in the open field, that is when he is most dangerous. The Sooners’ defense found out first hand.
In the same game, Iowa State’s offense designed plays to get the ball in Montgomery’s hands. The Sooners were in position to stop the running back for a loss, but he found a way to maneuver through the defenders, reverse field and gain more than enough yards for the first down.
Along with showing great vision and elusiveness, Montgomery runs with great power to pick up first downs on short-yardage situations. On fourth-and-1 against Oklahoma in 2018, Montgomery is hit a yard before the first down marker, but he kept his feet moving and fell forward to keep the drive alive.
In the matchup against Kansas State last season, Montgomery took the initial hit at the 10-yard line, but he bounced off the defender and kept moving forward until he was eventually tackled at the 22-yard line.
Montgomery just didn’t utilize power when running the ball. When he was asked to block, he demonstrated he could hold his own when defenders blitzed.
Although Montgomery was productive and made countless eye-opening plays during his time as a Cyclone, his measurables at the NFL Combine didn’t leave the same impression.
David Montgomery’s Relative Athletic Score. https://t.co/dPdQnHr73g
— Nicholas Moreano (@NicholasMoreano) March 4, 2019
However, general manager Ryan Pace told reporters at Indianapolis that, at times, people focus too much on physical measurements.
“Running back is such an instinctive position, and I think as scouts sometimes we can get enamored with height, weight, speed,” Pace said. “Really that position, really, starts with instincts and vision. And I think we always have to be mindful of that and not overlooking that, and I think scouts can trip themselves up when you get focused too much on the physical measurables and not the instincts and vision that come with that position.”
Nobody will be overlooking Montgomery in the upcoming draft, and his tape proves he is not only a great running back but the perfect one for the Bears.
I’ve gotta disagree. Montgomery would be a great RB3 in my opinion, but should not be overdrafted with the hope that he will blossom into JHoward’s heir apparent. He’s barely missing tackles in the Big 12, where they play no defense. When he’s at the pro level those guys are at least 2 steps faster. He doesn’t have the explosiveness to stay that elusive in the nfl. His start and stop is average if not below average, although he does have probably the best lateral quickness in the draft and he’s a good pass-catcher. He won’t be a long term starter. I wouldn’t take him higher than the 6th.
I’m going to disagree with you. DM posted some of the best rushing yards in the big 12 with a terrible o-line and revolving door at qb. Most of his yards came with little to no help from the rest of the team.
My thoughts exactly!
Barely missing tackles? Did you miss that he set an NCAA record for most missed tackles in a season? That’s a lot of tackles to barely miss…
You got some nerve bringing FACTS to this discussion! lol
You are a moron! Replacing Howard with a player exactly like Howard is unbelievably ignorant.
You are the moron if you think these two players are the same. DM is like Howard, but does everything better.
I will listen to the Big Dick before I listen to the Anonymous dummy faggot.
You sound so stupid Mr anonymous
The back I’m looking for to replace Howard has to make the most of 12-18 carries per game. We need that back to have 2 or three of those plays gash the defense. We don’t need the guy that needs 40 carries to get you 120 yards. Being an Iowa Hawkeyes fan I have watched DM quite a bit and he gets you 4 when he should have gotten 1 which is a great thing. I just don’t know if he is the playmaker the Bears desperately need.
So,we’re gonna trader an inexpensive Very productive pro bowl running back for someone Not as good,with problems-otherwise he would Not be available,for a 5th round pick? REALLY? Are you crazy? PPUUUHHHLLLEEEZZZ! Keep him for this year. See what he is capable. He doesn’t Have to fit yur system! It’s Always been the other way around!
I agree with you. I sure hope these rumors about trading Howard, are just rumors. Bears need to go into the season with Howard and a new RB from the 3rd or 4th rd.
I don’t think Howard ultimately fits this new offense, but we get a chance to see how he responds in his 2nd season in this offense. And if he doesn’t show anything new this coming year, then he walks at the end of the year. The Bears won the lotto with Howard in the 5th rd.
It would outrageous to get rid of Howard before this season starts. You don’t want to go into the season with a rookie RB as your lead back and gimmicky Cohen. That’s a terrible idea. Plenty of room for Howard in that backfield. Cunningham and a Mizzell don’t belong on the roster.
Ast time i heard that someone didnt fit the Bears system was Mike Martz wanting Greg Olsen gone….how did tbat work out for the Bears and better yet for Carolina…now im hearing it about JHow…Here is a novel thought, Players can play mo matter what system
You can’t go wrong if you have a shot at a Montgomery in rd 3 or 4. That would be a coup for the Bears.