Will Damien Williams cut into David Montgomery work with Chicago Bears?
The Chicago Bears adding not only Damien Williams but also Khalil Herbert at running back this offseason shows that this team is no longer going to lack a backup plan at running back. If you recall the Bears’ week 10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, their run game was sad with Artavis Pierce, Cordarelle Patterson, and Ryan Nall taking the wheel when Montgomery was out.
So, the Bears now have a plan for if Montgomery gets down. However, with two names added it is worth wondering if the Chicago Bears have a plan to preserve the health of Montgomery by taking a few of his touches and giving them to the backup runners.
We know that Tarik Cohen will get his cut of the work, but that has not stopped Montgomery from being a lead dog in the backfield. While Khalil Herbert has a role on special teams, it is worth wondering if Williams would even be active on gamedays if the plan was not to cut into the distribution of touches to Montgomery.
History of Matt Nagy with running backs
Overall, Nagy was the OC of the Chiefs in 2017 and has three years as a head coach. In 2017, he had Kareem Hunt, and Charcandrick West was his only backup. West had a cup of coffee with Nagy here as well. Still, it was a short trip because West is a bit limited. With that in mind, Nagy rode Hunt for an 80% running back work share.
When Nagy came to Chicago he had 65% of the non-QB rush attempts to Jordan Howard, and 26% to Cohen. That left 9% of the work for names like Taylor Gabriel, and Benny Cunningham.
However, when he moved from Howard to Montgomery, he put more work on Monty. Montgomery got 71% of the carries as a rookie, and that factors in that Mike Davis led the way in weeks one and two. Cohen had about 19%, once again leaving just 10% of the work for receivers, tight ends, and the third back.
Even in 2020, Montgomery saw 72% of the work share, even with missing a game. When you combine the touches of Patterson and Cohen, they had 22% of the work. Cohen missing time essentially had Nagy put Patterson into that change of pace role. Still once again, it leaves less than 10% of the touches for others, that is with time missed.
Is Damien Williams worth cutting into David Montgomery’s share?
Overall, the Williams signing got hype because he had a great playoff run with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, this is a journeyman runner who hit in the right spot at the right time in that offense.
For his career, Damien Williams has only had 10 carries or more in 10 of his 84 games. He averages 3.5 carries per game in games that he is active. So, once again, there has to be a question of whether he is even active. Because, if so, the question may be whether 3.5 carries a game is worth giving Williams a helmet.
Last season Pierce and Nall had nine carries, the year before it was 28 carries for Patterson and Mike Davis, and in 2018 it was 20 carries for Benny Cunningham and Taquon Mizzell.
Essentially, that is the role that Williams would be stepping into. That is less than two carries per game. Khalil Herbert should be getting those carries.
When you look at the contract you see that he has almost nothing guaranteed, and is only getting a minimum salary deal. All of a sudden Damien Williams is more likely to be released than make an impact on gamedays, or cut into the snaps of Montgomery. He was an insurance policy for if they missed on someone like Herbert, and with Herbert in the mix, it is hard to find a role that keeps him active.