Will New Orleans Saints hold David Montgomery in check?

Chicago Bears (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /

Can the Chicago Bears ride David Montgomery against the New Orleans Saints?

Aside from Mitch Trubisky playing better, the biggest takeaway from the Chicago Bears last six games has been the emergence of David Montgomery. Montgomery has had three 100 yard games all season and all three came in the past 6 weeks. Now, he gets a New Orleans Saints run defense that did hold him in check. Will we see the same Montgomery of the past six weeks, or will he struggle with the great run defense?

To put his run into context, Montgomery the last six run defenses he has faced rank 19, 26, 30, 27, 22, and 19. Montgomery has performed but has done what he was expected to do against bad run defenses.

When he takes on the New Orleans Saints he will be taking on the second-ranked run defense in the NFL. To be fair, Montgomery did play the Saints earlier and found some success. He ripped off a huge 38 yarder early in the game.

However, he finished that game with 21 carries for 89 yards. Without that 38 yard run, he was held to 51 yards on 20 rush attempts.

You cannot simply take a run out of the equation, but it is fair to mention that Montgomery was not ripping off runs consistently against New Orleans. It was a grind.

Montgomery has played 5 defenses that rank in the top 11 for run defense. Of course, four of those defenses (NO, IND, TB, LAR) all faced Chicago with Nick Foles at quarterback.

Still, even including his long run against the Saints, Montgomery has 69 rushes for 238 yards in those games against top run defenses. That is 3.5 yards per carry. He also picks up a first down 15 times, a 21.7% rate.

Against defenses outside the top 11 in efficiency Montgomery has 178 rushes for 832 yards, which is 4.7 yards per carry. He also had 44 first downs, which is 24.7% of his rushes. He picks up a first down 3% more often and averages 1.2 yards more per carry against the bad run defenses.

Of course, not all of this is on Montgomery. His offensive line was shuffling particularly against the Rams and Saints.

In fact, David Montgomery averaged 0.7 yards BEFORE contact against the Saints. For his season he averages 1.9 yards before contact, and in the past six weeks has been closer to 3 yards before contact than one.

The only game in which Montgomery saw fewer yards before contact was against Tennessee when COVID and other injuries had the Chicago Bears starting three backups.

Since then, the offensive line has gained life. The quarterback is more mobile, and as a result, Montgomery has hit his stride.

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On one hand, Montgomery is in a much better position to succeed. On the other, Montgomery has played well against bad defenses and has been held in check against the good. The Saints check the box as good and have stuffed him before. Can they do it again?