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Possible Breakout Player Of 2011: Bengals Running Back Bernard Scott

Of the players that could benefit with Jay Gruden's version of a west coast offense, you might be hard pressed to find a player that would benefit more than running back Bernard Scott. Seriously. There isn't a player that Bengals fans want to see on the field more than Scott, who averages 5.2 touches per game on offense. Not only do we think Scott could benefit from increased playing time under Gruden's system, he could actually be one of the team's biggest weapons. What is it with bold statements today?

Scott's young NFL career has been marked with some achievement. Of the players that returned a kickoff at least 10 times in the NFL during the 2009 season, Scott's 31.5-yard average was tops in the NFL (he came four returns shy of qualifying). Scott's 96-yard touchdown return against Pittsburgh was the lone touchdown during Cincinnati's 18-12 win over the Steelers on November 15, 2009; the same game he posted 206 yards on kickoff returns, third-most in franchise history. When Cedric Benson went down with an injury in the same game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Benson gladly wore the crown as the team's feature back during the following two games, posting 206 yards rushing on 39 carries including a 119-yard effort against the Oakland Raiders.

Yet, two themes surround Scott. One, durability. Two, under-utilization. During the previous two seasons the Bengals have run 2,057 offensive plays; Scott has been on the field for 312 of those snaps. And of the 312 snaps he's been on the field, only 48.4% of the time has he touched the football.

  Total Plays Snaps Pct. Rushes Yards Rec. Yards
2010 1,046 181 17.3% 61 299 11 60
2009 1,011 131 12.9% 74 321 5 67
Career 2,057 312 15.2% 135 620 16 127
Total Plays = Total snaps by the Bengals offense ( Snaps is total plays that Bernard Scott was on the field on offense (Pro Football Focus). Pct. = Percentage of snaps by Scott.

This is the same guy that posted 4,321 yards rushing and 73 total touchdowns in two seasons with Division II's Abilene Christian. Cedric Benson posted a career high 1,251 yards rushing in 2009 and yet, according to the scores handed out by Pro Football Focus, Scott was graded as the team's best overall running back.

We're not suggesting he should be the team's feature back. Far from it. Durability concerns remain paramount enough that the Bengals need to find a bell cow if Cedric Benson gets it in his head that the market will be incredibly generous for 28-year old running backs.

A west coast offense presents more opportunity for running backs to catch the football out of the backfield. For Scott, that would mean more open space where he seems most comfortable. Along with his explosive speed and quickness, Scott could be one of the team's most effective weapons in 2011.