April 13, 2024

Backfield Breakdown: Chicago Bears

3 min read

Backfield Breakdown: Chicago Bears

By Randal Kennedy

 

After Atlanta, the Chicago Bears were the second most run-heavy team in the NFL last year with 558 rushing attempts. They also posted the most yards on the ground. (Although QB Justin Fields had more than a hand in those numbers) But the Bears allowed RB David Montgomery to depart in free agency. Electing instead to add former Panthers RB D'Onta Foreman. After a midseason trade that sent Christian McCaffery to the 49ers, Foreman took over Carolina's backfield and established career highs in yards and touchdowns. He carried the Panthers offense down the stretch and propelled them to a 4-2 finish that almost won interim coach Steve Wilkes the Head Coaching job.

Trading his Monsters of the Midway garb for the Silver and Blue of division rival Detroit, Montgomery leaves behind plenty of opportunities. Playing in 16 games he posted 1117 total yards and six touchdowns. He also leaves behind backfield mate Khalil Herbert; a decisive runner who showed burst to the corner, he compiled 788 yards and five touchdowns of his own. But the speedy Herbert didn't factor into the passing game, seeing just 4% of QB Justin Fields' targets. And while he was the more effective runner and better fit for the scheme, Montgomery was counted on to do the heavy lifting and to play on third down.

So Bears GM Ryan Poles entered NFL draft weekend intent on finding a bruiser who could play on passing downs and help their young signal-caller. They found him in Roschon Johnson. His Texas teammate, Bijan Robinson, may have gotten most of the headlines but Johnson is a helluva consolation prize. A power back with a bruising frame, he consistently runs behind his pads and always manages to fall forward for extra yardage. A dependable runner who is great in pass protection, he forced missed tackles on 45% of his runs the last two years. A rate that led all college running backs with at least 190 carries. (PFF)

Poles shared his vision for the fourth round prospect post draft.

"[Johnson] is a guy I was shocked that was still on the board [at 115 overall]. He is a really good football player that I know is going to be successful in this league, in many different ways. On top of that... he is an unbelievable human being who is going to enhance our culture, enhance our locker room, and continue to meet the standards that we put in place".

- Ryan Poles, Chicago Bears GM

 

Foreman and Herbert will have roles. The extent of those roles is largely unknown. But when plugged into my model it breaks down as follows:

 

Roschon Johnson

175-850-6 rushing 40-375-1 receiving

 

D'Onta Foreman

150-700-5 rushing < 10 receptions

 

 

Khalil Herbert

95-520-2 rushing < 10 receptions

 

 

All three runnings backs are great fits for this Bears backfield. It wouldn't be a shock to see Johnson earn more touches as the season progresses. His talent could make him an instant contributor right away, and he could take over sooner than later. With that being said, he has the potential to be one of the biggest steals of this year's draft.

Roschon Johnson is the back to own in fantasy leagues, especially dynasty.

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