Bengals Bye Week Report Card: Running Backs

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 16: Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 27-17. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

After the Bengals lost cornerback Johnathan Joseph to free agency, re-signing running back Cedric Benson became priority No. 1. In a season with a rookie quarterback and rookie offensive coordinator, it seemed like things were going to revert back to how it was in 2009 when Benson carried the Bengals offense to the playoffs.

That hasn't necessarily been the case, though. 

Here is a statistical breakdown of the Bengals running backs through the first six games.

Week 1: Running backs carried the ball 31 times for 139 yards and a touchdown against the Browns in a 27-17 win in Cleveland.

  • Cedric Benson: Benson carried the ball 25 times for 121 yards and a touchdown for 4.8 YPC. The majority of his yards and his touchdown came on a last-minute 39-yard run. He also caught one pass for two yards.
  • Bernard Scott: Scott four times for three yards for 0.8 YPC. 
  • Brian Leonard: Leonard carried the ball twice for 15 yards for  7.5 YPC. He also added two catches out of the backfield for 29 yards.

Week 2: Bengals running backs carried the ball 20 times for 72 yards in the Bengals 24-22 loss to the Broncos in Denver.

  • Benson: Benson carried the ball 16 times for 59 yards for 3.7 YPC. He also caught three passes for 17 yards.
  • Scott: Scott carried the ball twice for 10 yards for five YPC. He didn't catch any passes.
  • Leonard: Leonard didn't carry the ball but he caught two passes for five yards.

Week 3: Bengals running backs carried the ball 19 times for 74 yards in the Bengals 13-9 loss in their home opener to the San Francisco 49ers.

  • Benson: Benson carried the ball 17 times for 64 yards for 3.8 YPC. He caught zero passes. 
  • Scott: Scott carried the ball twice for 10 yards for the second game in a row for five YPC. He caught zero passes out of the backfield.
  • Leonard: Leonard didn't carry the ball again but he caught one pass out of the backfield for seven yards.

Week 4: Bengals running backs carried the ball 28 times for 153 yards in the Bengals 23-20 win over the Buffalo Bills in Paul Brown Stadium.

  • Benson: Benson carried the ball 19 times for 104 yards for 5.5 YPC. He didn't catch any passes.
  • Scott: Scott carried the ball five times for 13 yards for 2.6 YPC. He also caught two passes for nine yards.
  • Leonard: Leonard carried the ball four times for 36 yards for nine YPC. He also caught one pass out of the backfield for 15 yards.

Week 5: Bengals running backs carried the ball 31 times for 77 yards in the Bengals 30-20 win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

  • Benson: Benson carried the ball 24 times for 53 yards for 2.2 YPC. He didn't catch any passes.
  • Scott: Scott carried the ball six times for 20 yards for 3.3 YPC. He also caught one pass for two yards.
  • Leonard: Leonard carried the ball one time for four yards for four YPC. He also caught one pass for 10 yards.

Week 6: Bengals running backs carried the ball 29 times for 95 yards in the Bengals 27-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

  • Benson: Benson carried the ball 16 times for 57 yards for 3.6 YPC and his first rushing touchdown since week one. He also caught one pass for five yards.
  • Scott: Scott carried the ball 11 times for 29 yards for 2.6 YPC and also caught one pass for five yards.
  • Leonard: Leonard carried the ball twice for nine yards for 4.5 YPC. He also caught two passes out of the backfield for 38 yards.

The running game has been completely underwhelming so far this season. Benson has looked decent in two of the team's six games but looked pretty ineffective in the other four and Bernard Scott hasn't looked much better. Leonard hasn't carried the ball enough to really judge him but when he has carried the ball he's looked impressive.

Grade -- C: The running game has been disappointing this season. Benson hasn't looked very good and when Scott has been given a chance to carry the ball, he hasn't looked very good either. What they've done may be enough to get a win in the first six games when their opponents had a combined record of 13-21, but now that they're moving into a tougher section of their schedule, the Bengals need to figure out a way to make their running game work. If they don't they could be in trouble, especially when they get into the AFC North stretch of their schedule.

Honestly the only reason I gave the Bengals a C is because Benson has the capability to carry the ball 25-30 times a game. That can at least keep a defense honest enough for the play action to work for Dalton. If Benson couldn't do that the grade might be in the D+ range.

What grade do you give the Bengals running backs?

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