For nearly eight months Cedric Benson sat idly by, waiting for a phone call.
Free agency began, the draft was completed, minicamps and OTAs came and went and, still, the phone never rang. A 1,000-yard rusher for three years straight, it seemed strange that no team expressed any interest in the former first-round draft pick.
In August, though, that all changed. Benson got a call from the unlikeliest of teams. And as we all know, the Packers signed him to a one-year deal worth $825,000. For Benson the deal isn't that big, but for the Packers, his addition couldn't be bigger.
With Benson as the primary ball carrier, the Packers offense is immediately transformed. A big, bruising back who can pick up yards late in the game is exactly what the Packers offense has needed over the past several seasons. No offense to James Starks or Ryan Grant, but their ability to run between the tackles and pick up first downs has left a lot to be desired.
Cedric Benson can do just that.
Let's face it, the Packers struggled mightily in short yardage situations—and in the run game overall—last year. His signing will reverse this problem immediately.
His running ability isn't the only asset Benson brings to the table. His pass-blocking is tops in the league. When Aaron Rodgers is in shotgun with Benson to his right, a good blocker is only going to give Rodgers more time to convert.
How many times did fans see Rodgers play action and rainbow a ball downfield to receivers last year? Too many to count. Play-action passes are the Packers bread and butter. Rodgers faked out defenses left and right last season with play action. And that was with Starks and Grant in the backfield. With Benson, opposing defenses are going to have a much tougher time figuring out where the ball is going to go.
How many yards will Cedric Benson rush for this season?
On top of that, Benson allows the Packers to line up in more single back and I-formations—in essence, completely changing how the Packers attack opposing teams. I'm OK with this. Instead of lining up in the shotgun 60 percent of the time, they can utilize Benson's strengths and run a more traditional west coast offense.
I'm not saying Green Bay should limit Rodgers pass attempts; I'm suggesting Rodgers line up under center more often to keep defenses honest. Having Benson in the backfield will stack more defenders in the box and allow Rodgers to throw downfield into less-crowded secondaries.
Benson's signing is significant. He adds another dimension to this explosive offense and gives Aaron Rodgers another weapon with which to attack teams.
The Packers have finally gotten the running back they so dearly needed and, in doing so, have changed how they will run their offense.