Chicago Bears: Will Bill Lazor bring split backfield?

Chicago Bears (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Bill Lazor was brought in to fix the Chicago Bears run game. Does his history suggest less volume for David Montgomery?

With the hiring of Bill Lazor, many Chicago Bears fans will fairly wonder what type of impact this will have. Mark Helfrich’s role was never necessarily defined, at least until after the season. While Bill Lazor will not be calling the plays, the offensive coordinator has been hired to put an emphasis on devising a plan to run the football. That is where Helfrich and Nagy have both struggled.

When looking into the history of Bill Lazor as a play-caller, it appears as though he likes the idea of a backfield by committee more than riding a back.

Let us take a look at his history as a play-caller.

In 2011, he got his first chance as a play-caller with Virginia.  He used Perry Jones, and Keith Payne as thunder and lightning of sorts. The two split carries 160 to 137, a 53.8% to 46.2% split.

In 2012, they lost Payne, but Jones only saw a slight increase in work as Kevin Parks was added for a 54.7% to 45.3% split.

Once again 2013, the ran back Parks and Jones and had a 53.8% and 46.2% split. They had the exact same split as 2011.

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In 2014 he stepped in as play-caller in Miami, and may not have had the ingredients to work with. He gave Lamar Miller 216 carries, and he led the backfield. However, he still only had 54% of the carries as Lazor made sure to mix in Damien Williams, Daniel Thomas and Knowshon Moreno for a combined 121 carries. Ryan Tannehill added 56 attempts as well. Trubisky had 68 in 2018 but dropped to 48 in 2019.

In 2015, the Dolphins drafted Jay Ajayi to split the backfield with Miller. However, Ajayi struggled with injuries and saw just 49 attempts as a rookie. Still, Miller was held to under 200 attempts, as Williams and Jonas Gray were mixed in, and Miller saw 56.4% of the backfield workload.

2017 was more of the same. He joined a Bengals team that featured a rookie in Joe Mixon. However, Mixon saw just 178 carries, 45% of the team’s workload.

Gio Bernard 105 rush attempts and 60 targets. Cohen has ranged from 64-99 rushing attempts and 71-104 targets. Could we see more carries and fewer targets for Cohen next year? Mixon had 34 targets as well.

While all of this points to one thing, 2018 shows that he trusted Mixon in year two carry the workload. Mixon had 237 carries, by far the most a Lazor back has ever touched a ball in the season. It is worth noting that Gio Bernard had only 60 carries mainly because he missed four games. The team relied heavily on Mixon in those games. Bernard was only out-targeted 55-48 in the passing game, though.

What does this mean for David Montgomery?

This is worth considering for David Montgomery moving forward. He saw 242 rushes and got 61% of the teams rushing attempts. However, fans were demanding he sees the football more.

This does not mean that the team will not run the ball more. His teams ran the ball plenty. However, 242 would be the most a Lazor back has carried in a year. 61% would not be quite as high as Mixon in 2018, the injury to Mixon may show that 61% is still towards the high side. Especially when looking at his history as a play-caller.

The Bears may look to get Cohen more work behind the line of scrimmage, but also may look to replace Mike Davis with a different capable back to reduce the work of Montgomery. That is historically what his offense has called for.

So, if you are a fantasy player or hoping for Montgomery to touch the ball 30+ times per game, the hiring of Lazor may not be to your liking.