Going into week three, the Cincinnati Bengals were thought by some to be heading into a trap game with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns had just won their first game of the season after making the biggest move they’ve made in quite some time, getting rid of running back Trent Richardson.
Cincinnati was virtually dominated physically, held to 266 total yards and dropped to 2-2 on the year after Cleveland won by a score of 17-6. As they prepare for a week five matchup with the New England Patriots, the Bengals will have to address a major weakness if they are to have a shot at winning.
Running back Giovani Bernard has continued to get consistent touches each game, but the way I see it, he hasn’t gotten enough. On 32 rushing attempts this season, Bernard has 147 yards, equating to a very solid 4.6 yards per carry. He also has two scores on the ground and one through the air.
Benjarvis Green-Ellis, meanwhile, is still the starter and continues to dive deeper into a hole of mediocrity. Green-Ellis has rushed 20 more times than Bernard (52) for only 142 yards, giving him an average of 2.7 yards per carry.
See the problem here? As I’ve said from the beginning of the year, Bernard will eventually become the starter. He’s been nothing but consistent for the Bengals in his first four games. The guy gains yards — it’s that simple.
If Cincinnati is to insist on giving Green-Ellis the majority of carries for another week, he’s going to have to step up and make some plays. Otherwise, it forces quarterback Andy Dalton into some tough spots like much longer third down situations.
If the Bengals want to address the issue right now, Bernard should be the starter. Four games in, the kid has already become accustomed to the professional game and has fared well for himself. Give Bernard the ball more and watch what happens. Otherwise, Green-Ellis will continue to drag down the offense and they could be headed for another loss pretty quickly against the Patriots.