During his time with the New England Patriots, BenJarvus Green-Ellis established a reputation as one of the most reliable running-backs in the NFL. Green-Ellis never fumbled in his 2,409 carries with the Patriots and scored 29 touchdowns in four seasons. His excellent performances as a goal-line back and reliable performances as a feature back in 2010, attracted the Bengals to him this off-season.
Green-Ellis was brought in to carry the load and be a critical part of Jay Gruden’s offense, but since arriving in Cincinnati he has only proven to be a disappointment. After playing so long in a passing offense, the Bengals were hoping to get even more out of Green-Ellis by putting him in a situation where he would have better run support.
Yet, playing behind an impressive offensive line didn’t help Green-Ellis. It quickly became clear in Cincinnati that Green-Ellis had benefitted more from playing against defenses that were focused on Tom Brady, than he had lost from playing in a passing offense.
Instead of being the bell-cow that the Bengals built their offense around, Green-Ellis’ presence in the backfield so far has only served to heap more pressure on Andy Dalton. In eight games, the 27-year-old has as many touchdowns as he has fumbles, three, and is averaging less yards per carry than he has at any previous point in his career.
Green-Ellis has had games with averages of 2.2 and 1.6 yards per carry this season and even though he has forced 11 missed tackles, his longest carry of the season is only 20 yards. In fact, three times this year his longest run in a game hasn’t even reached 10 yards.
When the Bengals had Cedric Benson, they would repeatedly hand him the football to wear down defenses. Green-Ellis doesn’t have the same impact as a runner and for that reason, the Bengals have only given him 20 carries or more all season. Last year, when it could be argued that Benson was in decline, he had six games with 20+ carries all season.
Because the Bengals are not a passing offense like the Patriots were, Green-Ellis’ limitations are being found out while his talents are not being highlighted. The Bengals cannot just put the whole responsibility of the offense on Dalton, because he has proven to be very inconsistent in his second season. Therefore, Green-Ellis will get plenty of chances to turn his season around over the coming weeks, but he may not stick around for the remainder of his three year $9 million contract.