Signing Gruden was a shocking acknowledgement of the importance of the Bengal fans to this organization.
It seems to me that Bengal fans are split on Benson and his role in 2011. With a season that seemed to go wrong in every way fans did not know who to blame. Bratkowski and Carson received the bulk of the blame in public which was evident at PBS even having fans removed for wearing fire Bratwkoski t-shirts and Carson being booed after throwing for 20,000 yards passing.
However I personally believe Marvin Lewis and Benson performed far worse than Carson and Brat (not that you can directly compare these 4).
I ponder this question. Did Benson's awful season go slightly under the radar with the circus like atmosphere of 2010 ?
What sticks out about 2010 is not the interceptions, not Mike Brown and certainly not TO and Ocho's reality shows.
I will remember the beginning of the end when Benson came out early in the season saying the Bengals should return to the power run game. Why did it stick out ? With TO and OCHO as Bengals I was surprised they were not first to make public statements about the team as Benson was the first to do so. (Bengals knocked off 10 loses in a row following his selfish cry for the ball).
It was week 3 or 4 I believe. Go back to the running game ? Carson had 2 new receivers and a rookie TE to get accustomed to which would not happen over night. After all the running game lost them 5 of the last 8 games in 2009.
If you notice no Bengal but one had anything bad to say about Bratkowski's exit. Some of us are scratching our heads asking were the fans too harsh on this seemingly nice guy ? The only Bengal to say anything negative was Cedric Benson and that he is happy Bratkowski is gone.
Lewis already made it clear Benson is vital to his 2011 power rush game plan. Lewis also made it clear how reluctant he is to make changes.
Bengals of 2010 in a microcosm:
I will never forget Oct. 31, 2010 when the Miami Dolphins came to Paul Brown Stadium.This is how the game opened up with the Bengals starting from their own 14 in what would be their best drive of the season.
|1st and 10 at CIN 14||C.Benson left end to CIN 17 for 3 yards (C.Crowder; J.Allen).|
|2nd and 7 at CIN 17||C.Benson left guard to CIN 21 for 4 yards (C.Wake; V.Davis).|
|3rd and 3 at CIN 21||(Shotgun) C.Palmer pass short left to C.Ochocinco to CIN 27 for 6 yards (V.Davis).|
|1st and 10 at CIN 27||C.Benson left tackle to CIN 27 for no gain (C.Wake; B.Sapp).|
|2nd and 10 at CIN 27||C.Palmer pass short middle to T.Owens to CIN 36 for 9 yards (Y.Bell; J.Allen).|
|3rd and 1 at CIN 36||C.Palmer up the middle to CIN 40 for 4 yards (K.Langford).|
|1st and 10 at CIN 40||C.Palmer pass incomplete deep right to T.Owens (J.Allen).|
|2nd and 10 at CIN 40||C.Benson left end to CIN 40 for no gain (K.Dansby).|
|3rd and 10 at CIN 40||(Shotgun) C.Palmer pass short left to C.Ochocinco ran ob at MIA 46 for 14 yards.|
|1st and 10 at MIA 46||B.Scott left end to MIA 28 for 18 yards (B.Sapp).|
|1st and 10 at MIA 28||C.Palmer pass short left to J.Gresham to MIA 20 for 8 yards (K.Dansby).|
|2nd and 2 at MIA 20||B.Scott right tackle to MIA 16 for 4 yards (K.Langford).|
|1st and 10 at MIA 16||C.Benson left guard to MIA 9 for 7 yards (Y.Bell).|
|2nd and 3 at MIA 9||C.Benson left tackle to MIA 7 for 2 yards (Y.Bell).|
|3rd and 1 at MIA 7||(Shotgun) C.Palmer pass short middle to T.Owens for 7 yards, TOUCHDOWN.|
Benson ran the ball 6 times for 16 yds. (0 First downs) His first 4 runs got him 7 yds. Scott came in and got 22 yds on 2 carries. (2 first downs).
After that series Scott did not return for one play the rest of the game. Why would that be ? Marvin Lewis.
Now let's continue,
In the second quarter with 6:11 to go in the half the Bengals had 2nd and 4 on their 41. Benson gets the hand off and gets -1 yd making it 3rd and 5. Next play Carson dumps it to Benson for 2yds and the Bengals punt.
Next series Miami has the ball for about 4 minutes is forced to punt and Scott returns it 28 yds to Miami's 43.
2:16 to go in the first half it's 1st down - hand off to Benson for 3 yds. 2nd and 7 hand off to Benson for 1 yd. 3rd and 6 they know we are passing an incomplete pass forces the Bengals to punt.
We don't score in the 3rd quarter and at the end of the third with 44 seconds to go again Benson gets a 2 yd pass then a 3 yd run and the Bengals would start the 4th quarter with a 3rd and 5 leading to a punt.
Now we get the ball back with 11 mins to go in the game down 15-14 it's 2nd and 10 hand off to Benson for -7 yds and it's 3rd and 17. Bengals forced to punt again. (Benson butchered Palmer all season)
How could you not rotate Benson and Scott in the second half when clearly it worked on the opening drive ? ? ?
Being the Bengals could not run they were forced to pass and later Carson threw a pick and the Bengals lose.
My problem with Benson is that he leaves an already weakly coached team dangling on a thread. Carson has little room for error. He is already working with 3 out 4 new players (2 rookies) in the passing game. When the opposing defenses don't have to respect the running game and we give up 2 downs a series leaving Carson with one try to get it right, this just does not work in an increasingly passing friendly league.
Carson is best when he can spread the ball around as in the opening drive. Scott's speed and agility is more of a catalyst to stretching the field (as was Henry) than Benson and the power run game.
The Bengals must thank Ced for one hell of a 2009 and drop him for one poor 2010. it is what it is but the little guy from Abilene Christian is a big hombre for Carson Palmer.
My gut tells me Carson wants no part of the Marvin Lewis/Cedric Benson power running game and unless that plan is reversed Carson will never be back. The boos at PBS in 2010 surely can't be reversed. Only time can heal that.
If the Bengals want a prayer for Carson to retun in 2011 Lewis knows what he has to do.
Just for kicks let's finish off with a Superbowl Prediction. I am going with the Packers 30-24.