One of the bigger disappointments of 2019 thus far has been the start for rookie running back David Montgomery. Hopes were high when the Chicago Bears traded up in the 3rd round to secure the Iowa State standout. He proceeded to flash that same potential in the preseason, showcasing his versatility and relentlessness as a runner. However, through five games it is not going according to plan. Montgomery is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on 69 attempts.

Does this mean he’s not what the Bears expected?

Not really. The truth is Montgomery hasn’t gotten much help in the form of run blocking from the offensive line. Here’s an interesting stat to chew on. So far he has carried the ball against a “light” defensive front (one featuring six or fewer defenders in the tackle box a total of 50.7% of his carries this year. Just over half. He’s currently averaging 3.6 yards per carry in those situations. Either that means he goes down way too easy or more likely the blocking hasn’t been good enough.

Here’s one example. Oakland has seven defenders up near the line of scrimmage while the Bears front has five offensive linemen and two tight ends. So by numbers, it’s an even draw. This means there should be at least one lane for Montgomery to run through if the blockers do their jobs. Instead, #50 of the Raiders gets a clean look through the gap, meeting Montgomery in the hole before he ever has a chance to do anything.

This is a consistent theme with David Montgomery all year

Here’s another example. This time the Raiders have six near the line of scrimmage with a safety lurking in support. Chase Daniel checks out of the play and rightly calls a run with Montgomery. The Bears have a numerical advantage at the point of attack. Yet it doesn’t matter. Two Oakland defensive linemen are able to swallow up James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, and Charles Leno to prevent any sort of movement. Montgomery runs into a wall for minimal gain.

Now here’s a look at just last year. The final game of the 2018 regular season against Minnesota. The Vikings actually have the box loaded with eight. This should be a difficult run for the Bears and Jordan Howard. The blocking though is superb. Immediately Long and Massie drive their guys completely out of the lane. Then wide receiver Josh Bellamy gets just enough of the cornerback to provide Howard with the window to open space. A 22-yard gain.

Everybody does their job. That has not been the case so far this season and Montgomery is paying the price for it. Now to be fair he’s not without blame too. There are some cases where he missed opportunities to reach the second level. However, they aren’t nearly numerous enough to matter. If there is one issue the Bears need to fix, it’s finding a way to get back to what they were doing last year. Line up and play big boy football.