Sunday afternoon, the Cincinnati Bengals fought through a rather deceptively tough game against a San Diego Chargers team desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive. Now at 8-4, the Bengals have firm control over the AFC North and look as though they’ll wrap up the division here soon.
The win wasn’t an easy one, though, as the fourth quarter provided some life and a bit of momentum for the Chargers after a costly turnover. BenJarvis Green-Ellis fumbled with less than seven minutes left in the game when the Bengals were on the San Diego 25-yard line. This fumble came a couple of plays after Keenan Allen fumbled, taking most of the life out of the Chargers. With this turnover, San Diego had new life.
Thankfully, the Bengals were able to pull out the win. But, at that point it got me thinking about something I’ve argued for all season long: When will Marvin Lewis learn that Giovani Bernard is the better running back? When will he decide to make the move to Bernard as the permanent starter?
Look, I’m not saying that because Green-Ellis fumbled that he should be benched. It merely got me thinking again, long and hard, about why Lewis continues to stick with him when Bernard has been the more consistent back during his time on the field.
On the season, Bernard is averaging just about a yard more per carry than Green-Ellis. On a team that doesn’t really have a true number two option in the passing game — A.J. Green is about 700 yards ahead of the next closest wideout — the Bengals need a strong running game if they want to make any noise in the postseason. So far, Cincinnati ranks just 18th in the league in rushing.
Bernard would help improve that number if given more carries. It’s just that simple. I’ve been in this argument all year long, and yet still it looks like Lewis isn’t learning anything from watching his rookie.
In eight out of the Bengals’ 12 games, Bernard has averaged over 4.0 yards per carry. Green-Ellis, on the other hand, has only averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry in two games all year. Bernard has less touches overall but three more touchdowns. The kid is a more versatile back that has a much more keen nose for the end zone than that of Green-Ellis.
It’s time to make the switch before it’s too late.