The Chicago Bears running backs are one of the team’s obvious strengths as the 2022 offseason comes to a close. Led by veteran David Montgomery, the Bears’ running game will be a more significant part of the offense under coordinator Luke Getsy.
However, Chicago’s running backs will remain somewhat under the radar until the offense produces. Montgomery is joined by second-year back Khalil Herbert and rookie Trestan Ebner on the depth chart. Third-year pro Darrynton Evans has a chance to emerge as a depth contributor too. And while Bears fans are excited about this group, Pro Football Focus is taking a wait-and-see approach.
PFF ranked Chicago’s running backs 16th in the NFL.
“This is the strength of Chicago’s offensive roster, which doesn’t speak super well to the talent put in place around Justin Fields,” PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote. “David Montgomery ranks in the 76th percentile among all qualifying backs in missed tackles forced per rushing attempt and the 85th percentile in missed tackles forced per reception across his first three NFL seasons. The Bears will be looking for him to get back to his 2020 level of play (80.2 PFF grade) next year. This past year’s draft selection Khalil Herbert showed some promise as a rookie behind Montgomery. His 84.4 rushing grade led all rookies with at least 100 carries.”
Chicago Bears RBs are better than advertised
Montgomery deserves a lot of credit for what he’s accomplished through three seasons in the NFL. His statistics won’t rank him with the NFL’s elite, but he’s been a productive back. And he’s produced without much help from the offensive line and Chicago Bears quarterback play that’s been way below league average.
Montgomery’s totaled 714 carries for 2,808 yards and 21 touchdowns through three seasons in the league. He has one 1,000-yard season on his resume — 2020 — and looked well on his way toward his second one in 2021. He missed four games with a knee injury but finished the year with 849 yards and seven scores.
Herbert, as PFF noted, was one of the most impressive rookie running backs in the NFL last season. He shined during Montgomery’s four-game absence. Herbert ran for 344 yards and one touchdown over that stretch. If spread across 17 weeks, Herbert’s per-game production during that month equates to 1,462 yards. He’s a legitimate NFL starter, and he’ll be nipping at Montgomery’s heels all season.
Ebner and Evans will compete for the RB3 role, and while Evans has some NFL experience, the edge goes to Ebner right now. His ability to contribute on special teams and his advanced skill set as a receiver gives him a leg up.
There aren’t 15 backfields better than the Chicago Bears in the NFL. But until Bears running backs produce at a high level on the field, they’ll continue being underrated off of it.
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today. His NFL Draft and Bears coverage has also been featured on The Draft Network.