Jim Anderson was the Bengals' running backs coach for 29 years. In that time, he had outlasted several coaches, including Sam Wyche, Dave Shula, Bruce Coslet and Dick LeBeau. He also outlasted several running backs. Under his guidance, James Brooks, Harold Green, Corey Dillon, Rudi Johnson, Cedric Benson and finally BenJarvus Green-Ellis all had 1,000-yard seasons while playing for the Bengals.
Anderson said goodbye to professional football after the 2012 season and he and current Bengals running back Green-Ellis only worked together for one season. However, Green-Ellis recently said on Bengals.com that he learned a lot from Anderson in that single season.
"I didn't think it would be (as) big (of an) adjustment; it was hard," Green-Ellis said as he relaxed in his hometown during Super Bowl week and reflected on the transition to the Bengals.
"Coach Anderson really helped my career when he told me I can run with my eyes and not always follow the play. Once he told me that, the whole season turned around. It was kind of like I had a green light. You know how you get a green light in basketball and you shoot? That's kind of how it happened."
Green-Ellis had the best season of his career. Not only did he have a career high in yardage with 1,094 yards, but he also broke some personal records when it comes to longer carries. He really turned it on late in the season when he had over 100 yards in four out of six games and had carries of 48 yards, 41 yards, 38 yards and 29 yards.
According to Green-Ellis, Anderson was one of the major reasons he decided to sign with the Bengals. He not only met with Bengals officials at Paul Brown Stadium, but he joined Anderson and his wife at their home for dinner as well.
"When I left, if seemed like a pretty nice place. I made sure I didn't read about (the Bengals), I wanted to make up my own mind," he said. "Coach Anderson went through numerous different coordinators and numerous different backs from power backs to James Brooks, all different types of guys, from Cedric (Benson) to myself.
"Everyone has a different set of skills. He's been able to adapt to each person and to get those guys to play at their best. That to me signifies you can adjust your system to your personnel. To me that signifies a great coach. It's been an honor and a pleasure to work with Coach Anderson with his work ethic, sending me cutups and film. You lose a guy like that, it hurts ... a new person is always going to take an adjustment."
Green-Ellis is signed through the 2014 season, earning $2.3 million in each of the next two seasons. The Bengals are obviously happy with the body of work that Green-Ellis put in through the 2012 season, but they've also expressed the desire to address the future of the running back position in the upcoming draft. Anderson was quoted as saying that he didn't just want a running back to complement Green-Ellis, but a running back that could take over as the No. 1 back should the need arise.
The 2013 class of running backs entering the draft is talented and deep and many believe the Bengals will address the position with one of their first three picks in rounds one or two.
Regardless of who they draft at the running back position (if they do) the newest Bengals back will miss out on Anderson's 29 years of experience at turning unproven backs into NFL success stories. Hopefully Green-Ellis can share what he learned from his short time with Anderson with the team's new running back.