Can BenJarvus Green-Ellis carry Bengals backfield?


Around the League will examine one key figure under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season. Next up: The Cincinnati Bengals.

Under Pressure: BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Under Pressure

Around the League will examine one key player under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season:

AFC East
Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Seahawks

It's tough to replace a legend, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis only has to replace Cedric Benson. So why he is under so much pressure to perform in Cincinnati?

1. The Bengals want to run. They were a top-10 team in rushing attempts last year and fifth in 2009 when they won the AFC North. No matter what you think of Andy Dalton's arm strength, their passing game is going to be limited by a lack of receiver depth. The Bengals need to run.

(Incidentally, isn't it weird the Bengals are one of only 10 teams to make the playoffs two of the past three years).

2. BGE is coming from a system in New England that made life easy on running backs. Teams expected the pass and didn't devote resources to stopping Green-Ellis. Can he carry the load when the opponent knows the run is coming?

3. Green-Ellis averaged 205 carries in 2010 and 2011. With only Bernard Scott behind him in Cincinnati, he will be asked to do more. Green-Ellis is valuable because of his reliability -- no career fumbles -- but there is little to indicate he's a "foundation" back. He averaged only four yards-per-carry during his career.

Green-Ellis didn't have a 20-yard run all season. He only has four in his entire career. (510 carries). Those are not the numbers of a back capable of carrying a backfield. BGE is a rock solid role player that the Bengals are asking to do too much. They need a running back that can be a difference-maker.

Bengals fans may actually wind up missing Benson.