Bengals offensive time line:
- 2005: Pass heavy offense (3,820 regular season passing yards) that takes the Bengals to the playoffs for the first time in a long, long time. Decent running game.
- 2006: Another pass heavy offense (3,833 yards) but miss out on playoffs. Somewhat less decent running game.
- 2007: Once again, pass heavy offense (4,012 yards. Once again, miss out of playoffs. Not much of a running game.
- 2008: Carson Palmer gets hurt, the Bengals have no offense but sign Cedric Benson. Running game started to get better by the end of the season.
- 2009: Overnight, the Bengals switch from a passing offense to a powerhouse running offense. The Bengals (mostly Benson) racks up over 2,000 rushing yards. No passing game.
- 2010: ?
Who knows what's going to happen this year (other than awesomeness) but it's clear that the power running game isn't going anywhere. I like Benson. I like his style of running. I like his "I'll run over you" attitude. I love the fact that he gave Troy Polamalu a concussion.
The only bad thing about a running back like Benson is power backs tend to not last too terribly long or be very durable. Benson stands a decent chance of getting hurt running the way he does and carrying the ball as much as he does. I think that the Bengals need to find a guy to back Benson up if he goes down. A guy who can carry the ball 30 times in a game if he needs to. A guy like they had last year in Larry Johnson. Joe Reedy agrees with me.
Future watch: While Benson and Scott are a nice 1-2 combination and have different styles (Benson more physical and straight ahead while Scott is an outside and shifty back), the Bengals are looking for another back who can get the tough yards between the tackles if Benson got injured. Peerman and Mendenhall will get the first opportunity to see if they can fill that role. Brian Leonard should continue in the third-down role.
Scott wasn't as involved in the offense last season as some fans hoped he would be. I think a lot of people were hoping to see a LenDale White/Chris Johnsonish or Ronnie Brown/Sticky Ricky Williamsish combination. Eventually, Benson and Scott might get to that point but it seems that the Bengals don't think Scott is ready to carry the entire load by himself quite yet and just in case their main man goes down, they'd like to have a guy to share the load with Scott.
The Bengals signed a few free agent running backs and there are some more left on the market. One of these guys could be the guy that fills Benson's huge shoes if they need to be (I for one, hope they don't).