"From a consistency standpoint, you’d like to get Bernard more carries, more touches and Cedric has earned the right to be a feature back in this offense the last couple of years," Gruden said. "So there’s a fine line there. Know what I mean? The more you give it to Bernard, the more you’ve got Cedric over there scratching his head and not real happy. Really, to me, on a good football team nobody should worry about who’s scoring or who’s getting the ball. So long as the team is moving."
"You look at the great offenses right now and it’s somebody different all the time," he said. "It could be Gronkowski, it could be Welker, it could be Green-Ellis one game. It could be Jordy Nelson, Driver, it could be Jennings, it could be the back. That’s the way it’s got to be. In New Orleans it’s the same way. It could be Colston, it could be the big tight end, it could be Sproles. So everybody is a viable option on every play.
"We’ve just got to make sure if Cedric is out there, it’s just not Cedric’s deal. You’ve got to be able to do some other things," Gruden said. "You’ve got to be able to come out of the backfield, pass protect better and still do our play-action and drop back and throw. We’ve got to be more versatile in that regard, but overall we do have to get better in the running game."
That's what Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had to say about Cedric Benson and the Bengals running game on Monday, just two days after they were eliminated from the playoffs in Houston. He didn't say, "Benson had a good year," or "he went over 1,000 yards again, you have to respect that," or even "I think Ced is a swell guy." Instead, Gruden kind of dissed Benson's attitude and talked about how it's not all about him, it's about the team.
We've talked about Benson's future with this team and I have said, more than once, that I don't see him coming back in 2012, especially after the way he played in the last quarter of the season, but I feel that this quote from Gruden shows that it isn't just Benson's play on the field, but his attitude that will cause the Bengals to sign a different running back in 2012.
Benson did have another 1,000-yard season, but I for one am not impressed. His biggest strength seemed to be his ability to carry the ball up the middle 25 times a game but he seems to have lost all ability to make big plays, break tackles or gain the tough yards on third- or fourth-and-short. Actually, it seemed to me that when the team needed Benson the most, even if it was to just hold on to the damn ball, he let them down.
And then there's the attitude.
Gruden hit the nail right on the head. I've never seen BenJarvus Green-Ellis openly complain about Danny Woodhead (who looks like a fifth grader by the way) getting all the carries in a game. The Patriots game plan for teams and they play Green-Ellis when it benefits them and they play Woodhead when they feel like doing so would give them an edge. You'd think that as long as Benson's team was winning, he wouldn't have much of a problem with that. Unfortunately for him (and us), that didn't seem to be the case.
There's no question in my mind that re-signing Benson in 2012 would actually be counterproductive to what the Bengals are trying to do, which I assume is get in the playoffs and stay in the playoffs. Benson is one of the last remaining link to the Carson Palmer-Chad Ochocinco era and if the team wants to start fresh, they should thank Benson for his four years of hard running and wish him good luck in the future. Hopefully the future running back understands that Bernard Scott can give them a chance to win in certain situations and deserves to get the ball.
But this is something we have (especially me) talked about for a long time and I've gone beyond being a broken record that's playing the sound of a dead horse being beaten, so I'm going to stop now. After reading Gruden's comment, I'm fairly confident that the Bengals will do the right thing.