Bengals new offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden, is going to make a certain Bengals running back and the fans who have been screaming that he should get more playing time very happy. At least that's what Geoff Hobson thinks.
Gruden's new offense, which emphasises a power running game mixed with a passing game consisting of mostly short to mid-range passes, according to Hobson, would heavily involve a running back that can catch out of the backfield. A running back like Bernard Scott.
Of the three running backs, Scott is the only one certain to be a Bengal in 2011, that is if there is an NFL season in 2011. In his 29 games played throughout his career as a Bengal, he's carried the ball 135 times for 620 yards and one touchdown and he's caught 16 passes for 127 yards.
He's also considered one of the most under-utilized players on the Bengals roster.
The Bengals haven’t always been infatuated with Scott’s attention to detail in the passing game, but if he’s heard about this playbook yet – and it’s anything like the usual West Coast – this thing is right down his alley out of the backfield. For whatever reason, he’s the most under-used guy on this roster. I’m not saying 15 to 20 touches a game, but how about between eight and 12? Or maybe even make him a bell cow for a couple of series like they were using him late in the year. In the coaches’ defense, he did get nicked up here and there and that cut down on his availability.
The Bengals tendered Leonard as a restricted free agent and it's unclear as to whether or not he'll be a Bengal next year or even if his status as an RFA will hold up after the lockout comes to an end. In his two years with the Bengals, he's carried the ball 36 times for 145 yards and no touchdowns but his usefulness has been mostly in the passing game where he's caught 50 passes, mostly as a third-down back, for 354 yards and two touchdowns.
Benson, who is an unrestricted free agent and has been the Bengals bell-cow for the past two seasons, has carried the ball 836 times during his stay in Cincinnati for 3,101 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also caught 65 passes, including a career high 26 in 2010, for 474 yards and one touchdown.
If the Bengals decide to let Benson and Leonard both go, keeping only Scott, they'll likely look for another running back to help share the load, especially when running between the tackles. Scott's role may drastically change to a third-down back and a change of page guy who does most of his work in the receiving game.
Either way, it's likely that the Scott supporters who have been saying over and over again that he deserves more playing time may have their appetites satiated under Gruden's new system.