This is the 2nd in a 3-part series looking at David Montgomery. In part 1, we saw that Montgomery is bad at running the football. Today, we’re going to explore his impact in the passing game.
Let’s start by looking at how effective each Bears running back is catching the ball. The table below shows a host of advanced statistics for Montgomery and Herbert, as well as how they compared to the 67 running backs who ran at least 100 routes in 2022. All data is from Pro Football Focus, and values in the top 25% are highlighted in green, while values in the bottom 25% are highlighted in red.
A few thoughts:
- This is a complete reversal from the running data. David Montgomery is one of the better receiving backs in the NFL, while Khalil Herbert is one of the worst.
- Montgomery’s efficiency here makes sense. Even though he’s slow for a running back, he’s still faster than most linebackers, who are the defenders typically covering him. And when he does break a tackle, he doesn’t have the whole defense already flowing to him from nearby, so he’s able to pick up more yards. Throwing him the football is a way to get him the ball in space, which lets him take advantage of his strengths while minimizing the lack of speed that makes it hard for him to get to open space on a handoff.
- I find it very odd that Montgomery saw so few pass targets considering how bad Chicago’s WRs were and how good he is as a pass catcher. And this isn’t just due to the Bears not passing much; Montgomery was solidly below-average in routes run/target, which means the ball didn’t go his way very often even when they did throw it.
- Khalil Herbert is a mess here, which is why I don’t think the Bears can count on him as their primary running back going into 2023, regardless of how good he is running the ball.
Catching the football isn’t the only part of the passing game a running back impacts; they are also tasked with helping in pass protection. Let’s take a look at how effective Montgomery and Herbert were in this area, once again using PFF for statistics. Ranks are compared to 59 running backs with at least 25 pass blocking snaps, and once again top 25% values are highlighted in green, while bottom 25% are highlighted in red.
A few thoughts:
- These are small sample sizes, so it’s hard to say too much definitively about the data. But I did find it interesting that Herbert was asked to block more frequently than Montgomery when they were on the field for passing plays, even though Herbert is a worse pass blocker. I am going to guess that is largely due to Montgomery being so much more useful as a pass catcher than Herbert.
- I put blocking grades in here because there’s just not much data otherwise. I find it odd that Montgomery and Herbert had similar blocking grades despite Montgomery giving up 4 pressures on 54 blocking snaps, compared to 4 on 32 snaps for Herbert.
- No matter how you look at it, Montgomery is an adequate pass blocker, but doesn’t seem like anything special. Herbert, on the other hand, seems to struggle here a bit as well.
Tomorrow, a potential role and contract for Montgomery.