CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals fumbles the football after being hit by Calais Campbell #93 of the Arizona Cardinals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Cardinals 23-16. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Former Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson signed a one-year deal with the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. And everything is great, swimming with optimism of a reborn career while the Packers finally added some stability at running back. After the daunting silence of having no team show genuine interest for five months before a team deficient at his position called, Benson talked about changing organizations with a tongue-in-check reference to the Cincinnati Bengals, when referring to the changes moving to Green Bay.
"They talk about a Super Bowl around here, not about winning their first playoff game."
Though we have to admit, we're not sure about something. He could be referring to the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders, two teams that showed interest. But that's not how we're wired.
Every instinct instructs my fingers to write a scathing response that can be summed up with a hyper-pitched Tracy Jones impression of "How Dare You?!". Then I think to myself. You know what, he's right. We do talk about winning that first playoff game, in retrospect. Not first playoff game ever. That would be ridiculous for a team that went to two Super Bowls. Recently? Sure. Not that we're asking where he was during his 12-rushing yard effort against Houston last year. But at least he's done his part before, posting 169 yards rushing and a 47-yard touchdown against the New York Jets in 2009. Quite frankly anytime you target Laveranues Coles 11 times in a playoff game (Carson!), you're going to struggle. The Bengals did. And lost.
After having a tremendous impact during his first season, often praised as a leader and not the character-deficient juvenile that the Cincinnati Bengals took a flyer on when his career was in the dumpster, Benson's production went downhill. Contrary to Benson's belief, It wasn't for the lack of participation either. In 27 of 31 games in 2010 and 2011 combined, he carried the football 15 times. And during 15 games over the past two seasons, his number was called over 20 times. This has become rather normal production for a feature back in the NFL today. Yet Benson only generated only six games with 100 yards rushing in his final two seasons with the Bengals and a 3.7 yard/rush average over the final 31 games. Additionally his 12 fumbles were among the league leaders during that stretch.
Then there are the impromptu MMA matches on the corners of Texas streets and the bars of Austin we won't get into.
Undoubtedly the Bengals grew tired of his constant criticisms of the offense, while paying him nearly $5 million for very mediocre production, choosing not to re-sign him probably long before free agency even began.
That being said he had a hell of a year in 2009, carrying this offense into the playoffs. It's just sad that he was a major component of a team that just couldn't win their first playoff game. At least in recent memory.