It's not a stretch to feel completely disappointed in free agent running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has generated only a 3.4 yard/rush average in seven games this season and only two touchdowns. This is a guy known for scoring points with secure hands on the football (lost two fumbles). Except for the fumbles, how much of that blame is warranted?
When the Cincinnati Bengals signed the former Patriots running back to a three-year deal over the offseason, Green-Ellis' role was largely defined as a complimentary running back that gains the tough yards. Not a feature back, a bell cow like Cedric Benson, Rudi Johnson and Corey Dillon before him. Cincinnati's coaches repeatedly preached over the offseason for a committee-style philosophy with Bernard Scott, or at the very least greater rotation then they've shown.
Then Scott started the season injured, played two games and ran the football eight times before suffering a significant season-ending injury, leaving Green-Ellis alone in the backfield.
Now instead of the short-yardage back that he was signed as, he's playing the role of feature; something he's unaccustomed to nor built for.
That being said, during those short-yardage situations, he's doing his job per Bengals.com:
On 14 runs when it is third or fourth and two yards or less, he's converted 11 times in getting the tough yards, and against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, he's got 25 yards on six carries and a touchdown.
Our role of devil's advocate isn't meant to excuse the team's overall production in the running game. It's bad. It's also becoming clear that the offensive roster isn't designed to be an effective rushing juggernaut.