Green Bay Packers: 5 Reasons Cedric Benson Needs to Improve for the Pack to Win
Benson came to Green Bay after being a Cincinnati Bengal and putting up three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2009 to 2011.
The Packers have been all about the pass in recent seasons, putting their running game into the hands of three or four backs at a time.
This year has been different. With James Starks hurt and Ryan Grant no longer on the roster the Packers are relying on one man. Cedric Benson. While Benson has done a decent job so far this season, he's going to need to improve if he and the Packers want to get some wins.
1. Help the Offense
For the last few seasons the Packers have used a group of backs and had to rely heavily on the passing game for wins.
Benson has the skill set and experience to be a feature back in the NFL and can not only rack up yards for himself, but also take some of the pressure off of the receivers. The Packers receivers are very talented but if the opposing defense can line up every play without having to worry about a running game, the offense will struggle. If Benson can get the running game going it'll open things up for the Packers offense, something they desperately need this season.
Just look at the stats. Two times this year Benson has had at least 18 carries for over 80 yards. Those two games are the only victories for the Packers so far this season.
2. Help Aaron Rodgers
While Benson can help the receivers by playing well, he can also help Aaron Rodgers. As Packer fans have seen, the Packers give up a lot of sacks. A LOT of sacks. A lot of these sacks can be attributed to good coverage by the defense because Rodgers can't find an open receiver.
If Benson can come out and find success on draws or screen passes, the Packers offense will be able to open up and Rodgers will have more time on play-acton. With defensive backs respecting the run, Rodgers will have more opportunities to connect on the long-developing routes we saw so many times last season.
3. Help the Defense
Benson upping his game will help the defense too.
If you watched the game against the Colts you saw the Packers essentially fall apart in the second half. The offensive line couldn't block, and the defense couldn't make any plays. A few of the times the Packers got the ball back in the second half they had very short drives, going three-and-out on three straight passes or a run and two passes.
These short drives came at crucial times in the game. If the Packers could've used the run game to keep the clock running while picking up yards to set up some long drives, we might have seen a different result on Sunday. Instead we saw the offense come out for a minute or two and the defense get tired towards the end of the game.
Benson has to get healthy and keep improving so he can help the defense get a break late in the game and help the offense eat up some clock in crucial situations.
4. Help the Team
A premiere running back can have a huge effect on his team. He can take some of his confidence and success and use it to motivate and inspire his team to perform well. Benson knows all about that.
Benson has had a history of being a huge part of an offense. Benson had three seasons with over 1,000 yards rushing as a Cincinnati Bengal. In 2009 and 2011 he led his team to the playoffs after traveling for over 1,000 yards on the ground.
Those stats spell out good things for the Packers if Benson can play at that level. The last time the Packers had a single back rush for over 700 yards was 2010, which was a pretty good year for Green Bay. They won the Super Bowl.
Last time the Packers had a back go for over 1,000 yards was 2009, which led to a playoff berth for the Pack.
If Benson can get rolling the rest of the team will have the chance to up their level of play and turn this season around.
5. Lack of Depth
The final reason that Cedric Benson must be healthy and play better if the Packers plan to succeed? Depth.
As I've mentioned, the Packers have gone with running back by committee for the last few years. We've seen Ryan Grant share carries and snaps with Brandon Jackson and James Starks. The Packers were able to use this three-headed monster of sorts to put together enough of a running game.
The Packers don't have that luxury this year. Jackson and Grant are gone and Starks is injured. Benson sits in the number one spot on the depth chart followed by Alex Green and Brandon Saine.
Green took the carries in the second half at Indy for the packers but has just 14 carries for 68 yards in his career (including his nine carries for 55 yards on Sunday).
Saine has a similar resume. In Brandon Saine's two years in the NFL he has amassed 18 carries for 68 yards.
Benson has to improve and play well if the Packers want to win because they don't have the players they had before. If Benson can't give them a spark out of the backfield, who can?
While Benson doesn't need to have the best season ever, he needs to get healthy and be solid. Benson will need to put up decent numbers if the Packers want to turn this season around and make another run to the Super Bowl.
What do you think of Benson and the Packers? Do they need him to produce or can Rodgers and company get by on the passing game? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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