Ryan Harper generated the discussion Monday night asking, "where has the rushing attack gone" arguing that blame could be equally placed on the offensive line and the running backs. According to Cincy Jungle's own Joe Goodberry, every position save for right guard scored a blocking efficiency score of over 90%.
According to Pro Football Focus' ratings, it's the guards. Nate Livings is sporting a team-low -6.8 rating run blocking score with Clint Boling at -3.9. It's the tight ends, with Jermaine Gresham (-5.3) and Donald Lee (-1.3) sporting negative run blocking scores. Even Andrew Whitworth (-0.5) and Andre Smith (-0.5) are struggling. Of the offensive linemen with the best run blocking scores, ironically are a pair of guards in Bobbie Williams (1.3) and Mike McGlynn (1.7). All of that being said, Cedric Benson still scored a rushing grade of 5.0.
According to Football Outsiders, the Cincinnati Bengals sport the league's fourth best run blocking offensive line with an adjusted line yards of 4.53. Additionally Football Outsiders ranks Cedric Benson as the league's fifth-best running back with a DYAR (Defensive-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) and DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) of 17.6%, which ranks ninth.
The conversion arose after Cincinnati's struggles rushing the football against the Jacksonville Jaguars with Benson and Bernard Scott rushing for a combined 73 yards on 30 carries. Perhaps there's an easier explanation, considering that Benson is on pace to post six 100-yard rushing performances this year, is this.
What do Chris Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, Mark Ingram and Cedric Benson have in common? They are running backs in the NFL that faced Jacksonville's rushing defense this season. Johnson, who missed training camp and this year's preseason due to contract dispute, only rushed for 24 yards on nine carries. New York's Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson combined for 57 yards on 22 carries. Though Carolina's Jonathan Stewart posted 59 yards rushing, DeAngelo Williams recorded 18 yards rushing on 10 rushes.
Of the ten running backs faced this year with at least five rushing attempts in respective games against the Jaguars, only three posted an average of over 3.3 yards/rush. So maybe taking the pulse of Cincinnati's rushing offense after facing one of the league's stinger rush defenses is a bit rash.