Why Bears think they'll have top-tier run game in NFL

·4 min read

Why Bears think they'll have top-tier run game originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

It’s no secret the Bears are going to focus more on establishing a run game this season than they did during the Matt Nagy years. Luke Getsy is installing a wide zone running scheme popularized in the Shanahan coaching tree, and his passing attack will be built upon that run game. Ryan Poles has reshaped the offensive line to ensure the blockers up front can run, as required. The team has not one, but two fullbacks on its 53-man roster. The three halfbacks all bring value to the offense. They can all make an impact on the field. And they all use the same word to describe their room: special.

“Those guys just give me love, just being who they are,” said David Montgomery. “Honestly, I think us, as a whole, we can be really special. We can all do different things and we can all put pressure on the defense in different areas. I’m super excited to see what it’s going to be. It’s going to be fun.”

Anyone who’s watched the Bears over the past few seasons knows what Montgomery brings to the table. He’s a true bellcow with a rare mix of power, elusiveness and speed. If Montgomery misses any time, Khalil Herbert showed last year that he can step in and lead the way with a similar approach. Then there’s Khari Blasingame, the team’s lead fullback. Blasingame knows a thing or two about productive run games, as he comes to the Bears from Tennessee. Blasingame’s main role with the Titans was blocking for Derrick Henry, and he helped Henry rush for over 2,000 yards in one season, and lead the league in rushing twice. There’s no comparison for Henry in the NFL, but Blasingame already likes what he’s seen out of Montgomery.

“Explosive runner,” Blasingame said. “Runs like he’s angry. Runs like he’s mad at somebody. He works extremely hard and he’s a leader.”

Finally, there’s rookie Trestan Ebner. He’s a bit of an x-factor in the room, as a change of pace back, and a huge playmaking threat if he gets the ball in open space. Montgomery has taken Ebner under his wing, helping him with both football and life, as he learns how to be a professional. Montgomery also left a strong impression upon Ebner in training camp.

“He’s driven,” Ebner said. “He takes it to another level. You hear him talking stuff, and he preaches certain things, then you see it on the field, and it’s like, ‘Alright, he really turns it on.’”

Ebner is familiar with the wide zone rushing scheme, since that’s what he learned in college at Baylor. In 58 games in college, Ebner was a true dual threat. He carried the ball 343 times for 1,690 yards (4.9 YPC) and nine touchdowns, and caught 127 passes for 1,515 yards (11.9 YPC) and 11 scores. He’s comfortable in Getsy’s system and feels he can pick up right where he left off with the Baylor Bears. Ebner obviously lacks experience in the pro game, but has high expectations for the NFL Bears given what he knows about the scheme, and their personnel.

“I think we can challenge guys for the best running back group in the league,” Ebner said. “That’s something we talk about, and that’s something we stand on. We’re working towards that. We’re not just talking about it, we’re putting the work in for it. Going home and holding each other accountable, and everybody performs as if they’ve got to start.”

Blasingame has the same lofty expectations for the group.

“I don’t even really want to put a ceiling on it,” said Blasingame. “It’s dope. It’s a really good vibe in the room… it’s really love hanging out here with the dudes and being here, working, showing them that I’m trying to help them win games.”

Montgomery has the most context for how things have changed from Nagy’s offense to Getsy’s, so if anyone has a true appreciation for the new philosophy, it's him.

“You’re going to see a lot of interesting, new, different, things. It should be cool,” Montgomery said. “I’m super excited to just get back out there and run, get my feet back in the ground and show myself what I’m capable of doing.”

Montgomery said he’s ready for Week 1 and can’t wait to showcase the new-look rushing attack. But he wouldn’t share a preview of what new, interesting things we’ll see when the Bears finally take on the 49ers.

“You’re gonna see,” Montgomery said. “Ain’t no preview. You’re gonna have to tune in. It’s gonna be a sight to see, that’s all I can say.”

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