Last year Cedric Benson was so irritated with Cincinnati's offense that the running back declared that if offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski returns, he's gone. When Bratkowski was fired, Benson praised the move saying that "there is a time for change and I think now is a pretty good time." The Bengals signed offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and not five games into the regular season, Benson was frustrated again with the lack of carries.
The truth is that Cedric Benson is the type of player that will deflect blame on everyone else when he has a bad year. Last year's lack of production was due to the offensive system the Bengals used. This year was a complete disregard to the rushing offense, according to the running back.
"We kind of just went away from it," Benson said. "There wasn't a big emphasis on it throughout the week in preparation going into games. It just kind of became not important."
First of all let's not completely disregard Cincinnati's issues running the football. It just wasn't very good and much of that blame has been distributed to the interior of the offensive line. Additionally Benson registered only 20 carries or more six times during the 2011 season after posting 16 games with 20 or more carries in the two years combined before that. Additionally Benson averaged only 18.2 carries, his lowest in Cincinnati since averaging 17.8 in 2008.
But is that a change in philosophy or the fact Bernard Scott and Cedric Peerman achieved career-high rushing attempts this season? Alright, in Peerman's case he surpasses his previous career-best of two rushing attempts in 2010 by adding a third in 2011.
That being said the Bengals ran the football 44.8 percent of their 1,105 offensive plays in 2011, third-highest since Cincinnati's 2005 AFC North Championship run.
Maybe something else is at play. Rather than breaking down blocking schemes or using personnel better, perhaps the entire team was playing Sudoku while Benson frustratingly demanded some attention on the rushing offense.