(670 The Score) One of the great indictments of former Bears coach Matt Nagy’s four-year tenure in Chicago was his lack of commitment to the running game.
Despite stating his desire to effectively run the football, Nagy rarely executed on his word. New Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy seems set to change that. As the Bears' new offense takes shape leading into the 2022 season, Chicago should expect to see a multi-dimensional running game.
“I definitely think we’re going to use our run game this year, and it’s going to allow us to open up the rest of the offense,” second-year Bears running back Khalil Herbert said.
Herbert could serve as proof to the Bears’ newfound commitment to running the football.
Last season, the Packers had an effective backfield balance with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Getsy, who previously served as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Green Bay, is bringing the roots of that scheme to Chicago. Herbert has already been featured prominently in the Bears' offense during the offseason program, an indication of what the backfield could look like moving forward.
Herbert rushed 103 times for 433 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie last season, but the vast majority of that production came when lead back David Montgomery was sidelined for four weeks with a knee injury. In games with Montgomery healthy, Herbert rushed just 25 times for 89 yards. Montgomery carried 225 times for 889 yards and seven scores in his third NFL season.
The Bears’ running game in 2022 should include Montgomery, Herbert and quarterback Justin Fields as top rushing threats.
“Especially this day in age in the game, you need two or three backs that can get the job done and go at any time,” Herbert said.
Earlier this offseason, the Bears signed veteran running back Darrynton Evans, drafted running back Trestan Ebner in the sixth round and even brought in a fullback in Khari Blasingame.
If the Bears lean on a diverse backfield, it could impact Montgomery's future. A third-round pick of Chicago’s previous regime in 2019, Montgomery turned 25 in early June and is set to become a free agent after this season.
New Bears general manager Ryan Poles rose through the ranks in a Chiefs organization that wasn't in favor of giving running backs hefty second contracts.
Montgomery could covet a deal similar to what the Browns awarded running back Nick Chubb -- a three-year, $36.6-million contract that he signed last August.
“At the end of the day, whether I’m going into my second year or my first year, I’ve still got to play football and I still got to perform,” Montgomery said of his contract future.
While Montgomery and Herbert stand to benefit from an enhanced running game, such a commitment could help Fields more than anyone.
Consistently running the football would create more opportunities in the passing game. The Bears hope defenses have to respect an increased running threat this season, which should present Fields with chances downfield.
With Getsy's arrival and a greater commitment to running the football, the Bears believe they can take steps toward becoming a more dynamic offense.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.
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