As the season progresses, the Chicago Bears have decisions to make regarding running back. Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery both have diverse skills, but they need to produce more points. Where do they go from here? Will a consistent timeshare in the immediate future?
Herbert himself said they needed to focus on being better. They want to find their way into the end zone after big runs like we saw last week. It’s frustrating to have big, explosive plays to get kicked out of the end zone. But the silver lining is that the Bears have a guy who can produce those kinds of plays, they just need to use him properly.
Khalil Herbert has explosive potential
Khalil Herbert has nine points for 15 yards in just a season and a half as a backup running back. David Montgomery, meanwhile, has 19 points for 15 yards in more than three NFL seasons as a starter. What does that mean?
This means Herbert has more potential for explosive plays, unlike Montgomery. That doesn’t necessarily make Herbert the best running back and that’s a good problem to have.
David Montgomery is a much better blocker when it comes to pass protection. Montgomery allows pressure on the quarterback 5.7% of the time when protecting against passes. But Herbert is closer to 10% in that same category. What the Chicago Bears don’t want is to “tilt their throws” too much when these players are on the field on separate plays.
So how do the Bears pull this off? Can they feature both fullbacks in the same game? Maybe. But why not plan more racing games for Justin Fields?
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We know Fields can use his legs when needed. As BearsOnTap Panelist ButkusStats said above, Fields is not a runner, he’s a passer who can run. If the Bears can plan more RPO against the Patriots next Monday night, that will open up the running game.
This leads directly to hiding the Bears’ hand when it comes to Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery. They can create different looks for different games, but they should also create similar looks for different games.
Herbert can explode in this attack and the Bears can use it. If they make their opponents wonder what’s going on on a given play, regardless of who the ball carrier is on the field, that’s how they can create big, explosive plays.
Chicago Bears explosive games
For six weeks in the 2022 NFL season, the Chicago Bears rank second in rushing yards. They are only behind the Cleveland Browns in this category, but the gap in total number of explosive plays is very different.
The Bears have three rushing plays over 40 yards this season while the Browns have just one. But the Browns have 11 rushing plays for 20 yards and the Bears have just seven. Does that lead to opening up the passing game? Potentially yes.
The Bears have three passing plays for 40 yards compared to the Browns’ only play over that mark. But both teams have 15 passes for 20 yards this season. So theoretically, explosive runs lead to more explosive passing plays and some of that can be attributed to the offensive line doing its job. Some of that, however, should be attributed to defenses confusing playcalling.
Heading into Monday Night’s football game with New England, the Chicago Bears can change that narrative by designing runs for Justin Fields while using different personnel. This, in theory, leads to more explosive plays for Khalil Herbert out of the backfield that his history proves he is capable of.
Will Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy get there on Monday night? If they want to break their losing streak, they have to. At least we know the Bears have an explosive back like Khalil Herbert as long as they use it correctly.