I was going to review tight ends next. But when I saw Nate’s post considering the possibility that Trent Richardson could slip to the Bengals at #17, I had to switch gears.
Coming into the season, Marvin Lewis and Jay Gruden assured us that they were committed to running the ball to take pressure off of Andy. Without much of an offseason, that was a smart plan. How do you think they did on that commitment?
In the regular season, the Bengals ran the ball 455 times and threw it 516 times. Considering how often they trailed in the 4th quarter, I was a bit surprised that the numbers were not a little more lopsided toward passing. (Compared to 2010, where they ran 428 times and threw 590 times, those numbers are pretty balanced.)
When I dug a little deeper, the numbers confirmed my gut that the running game was a disappointment this year. On Monday, before I had these numbers, I ranked RB as the worst position group on the team this year. Let’s look at each guy and see how he did.
Cedric Benson: 15 games. 273 carries for 1,067 yds, 6 TDs. 5 fumbles, 2 lost.
It looks like Cedric had a good year, right? He got over 1000 yds, so he’s good, right? Well… Ced was #12 in yards, but he was #7 in carries. So those camera shots of him pouting on the sideline while Scott was in the game don’t pull at my heartstrings.
Was he effective? No. His 3.9 yds/carry put him at #52 among backs with 50+ carries, or #39 among backs with 100+ carries. Of the 19 RBs to be handed the ball 200+ times, he was 2nd least effective. Only Michael Bush (3.8) got fewer yards per carry.
It is time to thank Cedric for his four years of service and let him pursue his next contract elsewhere.
Bernard Scott: 16 games. 112 carries for 380 yds, 3 TDs. 0 fumbles.
Scott has one year left on his rookie deal. Some of you want him to get the ball more. Some of you want to send him to the curb.
I hammered Ced for his 3.9 yds/carry, so I can’t exactly let slide Bernard’s 3.4 yds/carry. I say his numbers suffered because he was often used as a between-the-tackles runner. That is not his game. After all, he was good enough to notch 299 yds on 61 carries (4.9 y/c) in 2010.
Brian Leonard: 13 games. 17 carries for 85 yds, 0 TDs. 0 fumbles.
Leonard also has one year left on his deal. He has done well as the third down/2-minute drill guy. In fact, the Bengals ought to look for him at least 3 times a game on 3rd down. He is a chain-mover.
Cedric Peerman: 15 games. 3 carries for 15 yds, 0 TDs. 0 fumbles.
Peerman is a RFA. He is a hard-running, between-the-tackles guy like Benson. The Bengals may have kept him mainly as an extra option as Benson’s legal issues were unresolved at the start of the season.
Chris Pressley: 15 games.
Pressley is also a RFA. After choosing to go without a fullback in 2010 (after Jeremi Johnson ate his way out of the league), the Bengals brought in Pressley for the role. He was solid in pass protection.
Planning for 2012
There is an interesting slate of free agent running backs available in 2012. Some of the top guys include:
- Matt Forte
- Ray Rice
- Peyton Hillis
- Ryan Grant
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis
- Marshawn Lynch
- Arian Foster
I doubt most of these guys get away from their current teams. The one most likely to is Hillis. The angst and hand-wringing that would emanate from the Mistake-On-The-Lake if the Bengals signed him would be absolutely delicious, wouldn’t it? (I’m not saying they should, but hearing their moans in my head makes me smile.)
While I will lobby hard for a free agent wide receiver, I think the Bengals should look to the draft for a new RB. The list of potential names is long, including guys like:
- Trent Richardson
- Lamar Miller
- David Wilson
- Doug Martin
- Isaiah Pead
- Daniel “Boom” Herron
If Nate is right that Richardson could possibly still be on the board at #17, there is no way that the Bengals can not take him. If he is gone, plenty of Bengals fans will lobby for them to wait until round 4 to take University of Cincinnati product Isaiah Pead. And of course Buckeye-heads everywhere will bang the drums for Herron.
Let’s hear your choice to succeed Benson. Do you pick up a proven free agent? Or who is your preferred pick in the draft?