For all you Cheeseheads who have been yelling for a Packers running attack, the football gods (and Cedric Benson) have smiled upon you. The Packers have signed former Bengal, Cedric Benson to a 1 year contract with an unknown amount of money that is most likely near the minimum amount.
Benson, the 4th overall pick from Texas was drafted to our hated rivals the Chicago Bears, who of course, could not unlock his full potential. In 2009 Benson started to burst on to the scene when he rushed for 1,251 yards averaging 4.2 yards a carry. He continued to break the 1,000 yard marker during the 2010 and 2011 seasons averaging 3.5 and 3.9 yards a pop, respectively. From watching the highlights shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y7SnMpMcdo , we can tell that Benson gets most of his success from being a powerful and aggressive north-south style runner with getaway speed once he gets to the second level. Imagine this: Cedric Benson getting the ball up the middle, were in the red zone, Jeff Saturday gets a block on a nose tackle, while top level guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang move to the second level and stuff the linebackers, Cedric Benson is running..TOUCHDOWN PACKERS. Although we can’t be sure, we have the interior line to help Mr.Benson’s style of running make Green Bay a very scary two headed monster. However, with such a physical running style comes great risks, since Benson has been in the NFL he has fumbled 19 times with 11 of them causing turnovers. Hopefully, running backs coach Alex Van Pelt can teach him to better secure the ball, we can also count on the Packers interior line to block him well enough so he won’t take as many big hits.
Benson however, will need to adjust to the Packers scheme, in the West Coast Style offense Benson will be asked to get himself more involved in the passing game. Cedric has not been asked to catch much, since 2008 Benson has only been targeted 105 times, while James Starks and Ryan Grant (last years Packers featured backs) combined for 68 targets last year alone. On the bright side Benson has shown reliable hands when asked to catch the pigskin, according to Pro Football Focus, a website that records, analyzes, and publishes stats Benson has caught about 80% of the balls thrown around him.
I have to admit I am very impressed with signing of Cedric Benson, along with the rest of Ted Thompson’s 2012 off-season acquisitions. He has recognized the window for championships the Packers have at this time and has been more aggressive in free agency and throughout the draft. Thompson usually is quiet in the off-season and drafts the best available player, this off-season he has been signing and drafting for need, while still acquiring players at their proper value. Barring injury, Cedric Benson, while complemented by James Starks and Alex Green could pilot our running game in to something special creating a two headed monster. With a fresh new defense loaded with talent, and a running game sure to be more effective then the past, the Packers should be able to bring the Lombardi back home.