Why BenJarvus Green-Ellis Has Yet to Turn it Around

By Cian Fahey

Cincinnati Bengals‘ running-back BenJarvus Green-Ellis had his most rushing yards in Bengals’ colours this past week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Green-Ellis ran for 101 yards on 25 attempts, with one touchdown. His previous season high came on opening day, against the Baltimore Ravens when he ran for 91 yards on 18 carries.

Green-Ellis for the most part has been a disappointment since signing with the Bengals in free agency this off-season. He was never the most explosive back with the New England Patriots, but attained a level of consistency and efficiency in a pass-first offense. Many expected Green-Ellis to kick on in an offense designed to give him plenty of carries, but his lack of explosion has really stood out for his new team.

While many Bengals fans are celebrating a turnaround in Andy Dalton‘s form after his recent performances, Green-Ellis’ performance is being met with cautious optimism because of the match-up against the Chiefs. As highlighted ahead of last week’s game, the Chiefs’ interior defensive line line was going to struggle against the Bengals’ interior offensive line. Trevor Robinson was able to dominate Dontari Poe in the middle, while Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling were able to hold off linebackers and double team down on defensive ends consistently. With Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth containing their assignments on the outside, Green-Ellis’ wasn’t made to work very hard for his yardage on the day.

Of Green-Ellis’ 25 carries, he crossed the line of scrimmage between the tackles on 19 of them. Those 19 carries resulted in 93 yards and a touchdown. Green-Ellis’ longest run of the day was also the longest of his career in Cincinnati. It came on a shotgun hand off up the middle when he went untouched for 21 yards before being brought down. Green-Ellis was never stopped at the line of scrimmage when he ran up the middle. Only four times could the Chiefs hold him to one yard, and one of those plays was a one yard touchdown run while the other was late in the game when the whole defense sold out to stop him on third and two.

When Green-Ellis ran over or outside of his tackles, he was stopped for no gain five of six times. The other carry went for eight yards when Green-Ellis bounced to the outside on a run that was designed to go inside. In space he failed to make a defender miss for a bigger gain however.

His reliance with the offensive line isn’t the only other reason to be down on Green-Ellis, the recent emergence of Cedric Peerman could be a storm warning for the veteran’s starting spot. Peerman had his highest number of carries this season against the Chiefs when he ran for 75 yards on eight carries. His 9.4 average per carry more than doubled what Green-Ellis was able to do from snap-to-snap while he had no ball security issues with his slightly raised workload.

As Peerman takes away from Green-Ellis’ potential carries in the future, the remaining schedule doesn’t offer up many favourable match-ups for him either. The Oakland Raiders this week have a strong defensive line and poor secondary, while the San Diego Chargers have been stout against the run all season with a tough interior upfront. The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles aren’t the best run-stuffers, but will likely have enough talent to hold down Green-Ellis. The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t offering much of anything to anyone right now on defense, while Haloti Ngata should be healthier by the time the Bengals face them to finish the season.

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