The Cincinnati Bengals rushing offense has the appearance of familiar tones. Last year Cedric Benson fumbled the football five times and averaged 3.9 yards/rush, much of it not unlike body crashing into a mosh pit during Metallica's composition of Battery. Electing not to re-sign Benson and his otherwise productive public comments regarding the philosophy of two offensive coordinators, the Bengals signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis to a three-year deal worth $9 million with $4 million guaranteed. Green-Ellis thus far has fumbled twice and generated a 3.5 yard/rush average in four games this year.
In between Benson and Green-Ellis, the Cincinnati Bengals have lost starting guards Nate Livings and Bobbie Williams while center Kyle Cook was placed on Injured Reserve with a designation to return later in the season. Second-year player Clint Boling and rookie Kevin Zeitler replaced the guards and the team expeditiously signed free agent Jeff Faine. Though having started the season adequately as pass rushers, they're still growing during rushing situations.
On the other hand Miami's top-ranked rushing defense is sporting two of the better run defending linebackers in Koa Misi, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, who is dealing with a foot injury that kept him out of Wednesday's practice. Defensive linemen Paul Soliai and Jared Odrick are having decent seasons against the run, as is defensive back Reshad Jones.
Despite that, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis isn't planning to shy away from the run.
"They've done a really good job against the run, and people are taking notice of that," said Lewis during Wednesday's press conference. "There have been some lanes in the passing game – that's where the big plays have come from. We know they're stout against the run. To lead the league, they're obviously doing something right. We've got to be balanced, got to be able to throw the ball, and still got to find ways to run it too."
And they should. Save for the Houston Texans in week one, the top ranked rushing offense that Miami has played was the 24th-ranked New York Jets. After that it's the 29th-ranked Cardinals and the league's worst rushing offense in the Oakland Raiders.
Though the Bengals haven't established a rushing offense expected at this point in the season, largely due to injuries with Bernard Scott and Kyle Cook (depending on how you view the starter), this team requires balance to keep Miami's defense honest, especially the passing game to allow guys like A.J. Green and Andrew Hawkins more space. You know. Where Lewis hints at the big plays.