As red-blooded American sports fans, we tend to get frustrated with the most trivial things. Receiving the football after a coin toss, running the ball on consecutive attempts when the first one failed, it doesn't matter. We get frustrated. During the NFL Draft, during the opening hours of free agency, during week ten, it doesn't matter when. We'll get frustrated.
You expect that. It just is.
But after two games into the season, with a 1-1 record coming off a playoff season, you don't expect the players to be frustrated. At least not publicly.
That is until you speak with Bengals running back Cedric Benson.
“I don’t know. With all those players and names you brought up (Terrell Owens, Jordan Shipley, Jermaine Gresham) they’re all, except for one, directly involved in the passing game. So, I mean, if I had to guess, it seems that that’s kind of the route that we’re trying to go, which can be a bit frustrating because we were successful running the football last year and being a power team. Being that type of team got us where we ultimately wanted to be, which was in the playoffs. I don’t know what would be the reason the team would want to change their identity, unless in the past season it didn’t work. But that’s not the case here. And, I mean, I don’t know. I guess whoever’s making those shots, or calling those shots, you got to kind of roll with the punches.”
This is somewhat surprising to hear from Benson. No, I don't think he's just a player frustrated. I actually believe that he's a leader, perhaps echoing frustration from other members on the team as well as his own. Personally, I believe that Benson has warranted enough clout as a member of this team for his comments not to invite negative reactions and he should be allowed that. At the same time, it's somewhat of a surprise that he's airing his frustrations so early in the season when there's been barely enough time to establish rhythm.
Benson hasn't been without work this season. He's already on pace for 304 rushing attempts and his 23 rushes against the Ravens last week was more rushing attempts than he had in seven of his 13 games last season.
So maybe he's talking about the rushing game as a whole. If you scratch the game against New England, since they were dealing with a huge deficit early in the game and were forced the throw the ball more, Cincinnati's offense appeared relatively balanced against the Ravens, with 31 rushes and 36 called passes (one was a sack).
We're not exactly sure where this could be coming from. He hasn't seen much of a reduction in his carries this year, so it's not lack of having playing time. The running game hasn't been effective, but you expect that with a deficit against New England and one of the league's best rushing defenses in the first two weeks.
But so help me lord, if I hear Bob Bratkowski's name one more time...
However, when Joe Reedy pressed him for more answers, Benson suddenly shied away from the ringing endorsements he had for the team's offense.
When asked if he had talked to Marvin Lewis or Bob Bratkowski about the offense’s direction, Benson said the only person he has talked to is running backs coach Jim Anderson.
When asked what was his take after talking to Anderson about how many (carries) he was getting and his role in the offense, Benson added: “It’s just, we do what we’re called. Whatever they call, you know? Just run it.”