Montgomery's game-changing physicality key to Bears' offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
CLEVELAND – After two lackluster offensive performances to start the preseason, Justin Fields and the Bears' attack got going Saturday night in Chicago's 21-20 win over the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Offensive line issues derailed the Bears' first offensive drive of the night, but they were nearly perfect from that point on. Fields will get the headlines, and rightfully so. The second-year quarterback went 14-for-16 for 156 yards and three touchdowns while leading scoring drives of 80, 52, and 62 yards.
But the unsung hero of the Bears' preseason offensive awakening was the man lining up behind Fields.
Running back David Montgomery made his preseason debut Saturday night. The fourth-year running back's stat line – nine carries for 28 yards – won't blow anyone away. But it's how he got those yards and the manner in which he ran that lights the fire for the Bears' offense.
"That's a game-changer," tight end Cole Kmet said of Montgomery's physicality after the win. "His identity and how he plays ball, that's how we want to be as an offense. So, when you have another guy on the field fighting for yards, the linemen like to see that, receivers like to see that, tight ends. It's good stuff."
There was a specific run by Montgomery that illustrated what he brings to the Bears' offense.
Montgomery took a handoff to the left to begin the second quarter, made a jump cut, and headed down the sideline. He could have made a business decision and gone out of bounds. It is the preseason, after all.
But Montgomery planted his foot and hit the gas straight ahead, putting his shoulder into Browns cornerback Martin Emerson.
It's that physicality and nastiness that the Bears want to be their offensive identity.
"That's what we like to see, and that's what we're all about," Kmet said. "Guys want to do that and that's the identity of our offense. That's what we are looking to show."
Fields said after the game that he felt the performance against the Browns could be a turning point for the Bears' offense.
The sharpness was a notable departure from the clunkiness we've witnessed throughout training camp and in minimal preseason action for the first team.
On Saturday, Fields was dialed in. He felt it before the game, and it showed as he easily carved up the Browns while pulling the strings for offensive coordinator Luke Getsy's attack. The passing attack is the sizzle, but the running game's success will dictate how lethal this offense can be.
To that effect, Montgomery is the head of the snake.
"It opens up the play-action game, the naked game, and all that stuff," Fields said of Montgomery. "I'm glad he's back. He's a baller.
"He's the definition of it," Fields later said of Montgomery's physicality and the Bears' identity. "When you have a guy like that running the ball with the amount of effort he runs it with, the amount of force and power he runs with it, it kind of shows what we want to show for our football team from an identity standpoint."
Montgomery's powerful, one-cut-and-go running style should be a perfect fit in Getsy's wide-zone scheme. If the Bears' offensive line can hold up its end of the bargain, Montgomery's tone-setting physicality can do the rest.
The 25-year-old running back ran free and easy in his first preseason action. He knows the Bears' offense relies on what he brings to the table. Montgomery had no intention, preseason or not, of doing anything other than lowering his shoulder into Emerson on his 13-yard run.
"That's just who I am," Montgomery said.
That's exactly who the Bears need him to be.
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