Cedric Benson is excited. This may come as a surprise considering the Bengals massively underachieved in 2010, finishing with a 4-12 record. It also may be surprising because Benson, who was the Bengals offense when they went to the playoffs in 2009, publicly complained, on more than one occasion, about the direction that the offense was heading in 2010. He eventually went as far to say that he would not return to Cincinnati if Bob Bratkowski did.
Well, Bratkowski's not going to be in Cincinnati next year. Taking his place is new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and there isn't a guy in the Bengals locker room that's happier than Cedric Benson.
One of the first things that Gruden has said about the Bengals offense was that he plans on returning to a power-running offense.
"We have to run the ball between the tackles. We have to be a physical team up front. We're going to challenge our offensive line to be physical. We're not going to spread out and go no-huddle every down and throw the ball 65 times a game. I intend on pounding the ball and being able to pound the ball."
This has turned Benson's frown upside down:
"I intend on pounding the ball and being able to pound the ball," Benson repeated Tuesday. "Well, that's my kind of guy. That's my game. I'm excited about this guy. I think Gruden is exactly what Cincinnati needs. I think it's going to be an exciting season."
It is currently unclear, however, whether or not Benson will be the guy that's doing this pounding that he's so excited about. He's a free agent now and the CBA situation complicates things. On top of that, Benson is coming off of a good/bad year. He carried the ball 20 more times in 2010 than he did in 2009 but his yards per carry average dropped from 4.2 to 3.5. He ran for 140 yards more in 2009 than he did in 2010 but he also still finished with over 1,000 yards this past season. He finished with seven touchdowns, the most he's ever had in one season in 2010, but he also fumbled the ball seven times, losing five of them. That's also a personal record for Benson.
While Benson didn't have quite as good of a season in 2010 as he did in 2009, he can't take all the blame. The offensive line didn't help, the Bengals were behind a lot and had to pass to play catch up and the entire offensive philosophy changed from a power running team to a we have no idea what we're doing team.
Still Benson hopes that he gets re-signed because he wants to be wearing a Bengals uniform in 2011.
"I got there, I worked my butt off, I ran hard, played hard, and I'm looking for my stuff," Benson said. "I would think if you're the owner of a team, you would want to pay a guy like me. I've been solid, I've produced, you know what you're going to get from me. I want to come back. I want to play there. I've gotten a lot of love and support from people. I hope it works out.""I've got an agent for that," he said. "It's one of those things that you have to put out of your mind because it's something that is out of my control. All I can say is I'm working on being a bad-ass next year on the field."
Do you want him wearing a Bengals jersey in 2011?