The Bears' running game is a mess. They know it. I know it. You know it. David Montgomery probably knows it. Kyle Long definitely knows it.
So what happened? Why didn't Montgomery click like the Bears thought when they traded up for him? ("Could we have helped him last year by getting him the ball more? Yes. Absolutely," Nagy said from the combine on Tuesday.) And why did Tarik Cohen set career-lows in rushing yards (213), yards per attempt (3.3) and touchdowns (0!)?
"It’s hard to put one thing on that," Ryan Pace added. "I know [Cohen's] mindset is to come out and have a strong upcoming season. It’s hard because there’s a lot of players that feel like they need to be better. Me as a GM, us as coaches, we all need to be better, and I know Cohen will be motivated."
So what's one answer? Cordarrelle Patterson, come on down! The Bears brought in Patterson to be a swiss army knife and in the first season of his two-year contract, only used him to open their letters. The plan for 2020, apparently, is a little more multifaceted. Can fans expect to see more Cordarrelle Patterson: Bears Running Back when the team opens camp in late July?
"Yeah, that’s a guy Matt and I have talked about just making sure we’re maximizing his talent," Pace said. "Obviously he’s an explosive, talented player. That can be at running back, receiver, returner. We’re going to make sure we’re getting the most out to that player because he’s too talented not to."
Patterson was used sparingly as a runner in 2019, finishing the year with 17 rushes for 103 yards. There is *some* precedent for a heavier on-ground workload, though, as Patterson ran the ball much more frequently (48 times) and a tad more successfully (228 yards) with New England in 2018. Pace pointed to that versatility when asked about the team's running back plans for this winter.
"We’re comfortable there," he said. "We’re always looking to get better in every room but I think they all bring different things to the table. They all have different flavors and styles. That’s a well balanced room.
"We like the group we have right now. I think Tarik, when he's rolling, it gives us a scatback. We call it a joker back. And then David, with his ability to break tackles and run with power, and then as we talked, about, you know, maybe sprinkling in Cordarrelle Patterson some and his explosiveness. So, and Ryan Nall, we like Ryan Nall a lot. We like our running backs. That doesn't mean we can't continue to add to the room, but I think right now we have a lot of different flavors there that all feed off each other."