When asked if Cedric Benson has "the power and style that could be helpful on third and short", Benson responds that "there's no question. No doubt. Of course."
Is that frustrating? “I suppose, but I remove my emotions from the game weeks ago. You know, the decision that are made for me to not be in on third down or whatever plays are called on third down I have no control over so I totally remove myself from getting emotionally involved in that cause I could throw a fit or do anything, that’s not going to change anything matter of fact I don’t think anybody’s going to listen. So, I’m not the guy to talk to about that. But, if my number is called in that situation I am going to be there and I am going to get the first down.”
That's the second time in two weeks that a player has said that he doesn't believe the coaches will listen to suggestions (a divide?). Does Benson have a point?
Defining third-and-short as needing two yards or less to pick up a first down, Cincinnati has had 20 chances to pick up the first down on third-and-short. Of those 20 chances, they've converted only 50% of the time. Breaking it down further still, Benson has touched the football on third-and-short four times, or 20% of the time. In a sense, that's mind-boggling.
Against the Patriots, the Bengals had five third-and-short chances. Palmer threw four times and ran a quarterback sneak on third-and-short, picking up four first downs. Against the Ravens, the Bengals had two third-and-short chances, picking up one first down on a Cedric Benson five-yard run. Against the Panthers, the Bengals had six third-and-short chances, picking up only two first downs with Palmer passing four times (three were incomplete), a quarterback sneak for a first and a miserably failed two-yard loss by Benson. Against the Browns, the Bengals had two third-and-short chances, both were passes with one converting for a first down (a four-yard pass to Caldwell). Against Tampa Bay, the Bengals used Benson more than once for the first time this season. Benson picked up the only two first downs on third-and-short -- a four-yard run and a seven-yard run -- with Palmer throwing two incomplete passes and Leonard losing two yards on a run.
Once you get beyond third-and-two, the Bengals only pass the football, never running on third-and-three, four, five or six.
So Benson has a point. Twenty times the Bengals have found themselves in third-and-short so far this season and only four times has Benson touched the football, picking up three of the team's 10 first downs on third-and-short. And you were probably thinking I was going to harp on the fact that Benson, like Owens, is complaining that no one is listening to him so why bother suggesting improvements?