Turnovers are never a good thing for an offense, but sometimes, a young player learns a valuable lesson after an interception or fumble. In the case of Bears rookie running back David Montgomery, his third-quarter fumble against the Cowboys in Week 14 gave running backs coach Charles London an opportunity for a teaching moment.
“He learned a good lesson the other day,” London said on Tuesday. “He runs so hard, and he’s hard to bring down. So I said, ‘That’s how people are going to try to attack you now. They’re going to try to hold you up and strip the ball.’"
Montgomery's on a bit of a hot streak over the last few weeks, including his performance against Dallas sans the fumble. He carried the ball 20 times for 86 yards in the Bears' 31-24 victory and now has 36 carries for 161 yards over the last two weeks. It's the first time this season he's averaged better than four yards per carry in back-to-back games.
But fumbles can squash the brightest of careers.
“He knows you have to do a better job taking care of it," London said. "You never want to take away that spirit he has, of trying to fight for extra yards. But that time also has to be calculated, to take care of the ball.”
Montgomery's want-to is evident on almost every carry. Rarely is he brought to the ground by the first defender and he's beginning to set the tone for a rushing attack that struggled to find its identity over the first 10 weeks of the season.
Montgomery's rookie season hasn't been as productive as fantasy-footballers may have hoped for, but he's still managed 680 yards and five touchdowns through 13 games. He hasn't received much help from his offensive line, and while his 3.5 yards per carry doesn't appear overly impressive, it's actually quite good considering how often he's been met at or behind the line of scrimmage. He's the Bears' third-highest graded player on offense, per Pro Football Focus, and is now beginning to prove just how effective he can be as a pro.
Still, he's not quite a finished product yet.
“Just go down,” London said of his advice to Montgomery. “Take care of the football. Take the profit. Live to play another play.”
Montgomery is a competitor. It's obvious in how he runs. And while his fumble in Week 14 wasn't a play he'll showcase on a highlight film from his rookie season, it was an important building block for the young running back.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.