Ranking the Running Game Pt. 23: Cincinnati Bengals

Jeff Little@@JeffLittle32Senior Writer IApril 1, 2008

Part 23 of a 32 part series, a running back position analysis of each franchise. If I said that the Bengals went through a disappointing 2007 season it would be an understatement of what really happened. The Bengals finished the season with a 7-9 record. After the last game of ’07 season head coach Marvin Lewis indicated that he expected and offseason of change for the team.


He stated in The Cincinnati Enquirer and I quote “You know you go to your garage, and say I got to get rid of this junk. That’s what I’m saying; we just need to freshen up a bit. When our players come back, there will be a fresh outlook, and not that cloud that we’ve left to hang over our heads.” 2008 strikes me as a playoffs-or-else season for Marvin Lewis. Lewis has sounded the “sense of urgency” alarm this off-season for good reason. Marvin Lewis has fired defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan; and has brought in his third, Mike Zimmer. There is no doubt that this is Marvin Lewis’ defense and he is under immense pressure to fix it. The Bengals offensively were more of a passing team but did run sporadically, as a team the Bengals rushed for 97 yards per game.  

  • Kenny Watson: 6’ 0” 218 lbs, 178 Att, 763 Yards, 4.3 YPC Avg, 7 TD’s
  • Rudi Johnson: 5’ 10” 214 lbs, 170 Att, 497 Yards, 2.9 YPC Avg, 3 TD’s
  • Dede Dorsey: 5’ 10” 196 lbs,   21 Att, 183 Yards, 8.7 YPC Avg.
  • Chris Perry: 6’ 0”, 224 lbs.  Injured reserve early in ‘07
  • Kenny Irons: 5’ 10” 200 lbs. 2nd round pick, torn ACL in August of ‘07
  • Dan Burks: 6’ 1” 218 lbs. rookie free agent from Alabama-Birmingham


The running back group for this team looked like a M*A*S*H unit. Perry and Irons didn’t play because of injuries. Dede Dorsey, a pleasant surprise on offense & special teams, ended up on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. Rudi Johnson missed five games because of a hamstring-injury. Watson was the most durable; he played in all 16 games with five starts.


When healthy this is a good group of diverse runners; I feel that Rudi Johnson will be the starter with the others providing the team solid depth at the position. The Bengals don’t have a huge need to draft a running back but with all the injuries taking a runner later in the draft makes sense.  A guy like Ohio’s Kalvin McRae could be a late round steal. The Bengals need to use this draft to improve the defense as a whole.

Their needs are OT, DT, DE, C & WR; their first round pick should be Sedrick Ellis, if available, to pair with Domata Peko at the DT position.


The Bengals received four compensatory picks in the 2008 draft. Offensively, with all of the smack that has come out of Chad Johnson’s mouth what are the Bengals prepared to do? Hearing the story of Chad being upset during a game, having to be restrained and taking a swing at Hue Jackson & Marvin Lewis leaves a lot of un-answered questions but if the reports are true the Bengals would wise to bring in some wide receivers just to be on the safe side in the event Chad & TJ Houshmandzadeh find a way (like TO) to force a trade out of Cincinnati.

The question for the Bengals:   What to do with Chad Johnson?