Chicago Bears: 3 Statistics that must improve to make playoffs in 2020

Chicago Bears (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bears, David Montgomery
Chicago Bears (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

No. 1: The Chicago Bears ranked second-to-last in “open field” and “second-level” yardage

Bears’ running backs’ second-level yards (Montgomery ranked No. 8  in broken tackles), but couldn’t turn that into efficiency. He averaged just 2.3 yards after contact, and 6.7 yards after the catch.)

It always felt somewhat poetic that David Montgomery’s college alma mater was the Iowa State Cyclones. It fit his rugged, violent brand of ball carrying to a tee. He had little-to-no issue translating that over to the NFL, too, as evidenced by his No. 8 ranking in broken tackles.

Montgomery could juke his way through a moving elevator door; it’s what happens after that that we find a statistic that must improve. Once he breaks those tackles, he just hasn’t found a way to break off many second-level — the area past the defensive linemen and into the linebackers’ range — yards consistently.

By season’s end, Montgomery ranked No. 8 in broken tackles but averaged just 2.3 yards after contact.

Only one team, the Miami Dolphins, found less success within that second-level than the Bears (just 0.89 second-level yards per game), and just 0.39 open-field yards. And that means nightmare; that provides an additional incentive to put the game in the hands of the passing game. That’s the difference between say, a 2nd-and-9 and a 2nd-and-4.

And speaking of that passing game: if Montgomery’s added production has some sort of carryover effect, the Chicago Bears’ offense gets a new wrinkle. It forces the defense to begin to respect the passing game, too. Over 16 games, the third-round pick was targeted just 35 times, compared to 104 from Tarik Cohen.

Along with trusting Montgomery more on run plays, it feels as though Matt Nagy needs to utilize Montgomery’s deftness as a receiver more.

At Iowa State, he was one of just three receivers without a single drop in college and was a surefire first down along the way. He has to be more of a focal point, perhaps even more so than the quarterbacks we speak so often about.