NFL Free Agents 2011: 7 Reasons Cedric Benson Fits with the Indianapolis Colts
In a way, watching teams like the New England Patriots and New York Jets making big moves has to alarm the Colts front office. Indianapolis needs a lot of help at various positions, but the biggest hole might be running back. Here is where Cedric Benson comes into play.
The Colts haven't had a highly reputable running back since Joseph Addai's 2007 season, and they need to take some pressure off Peyton Manning.
Indianapolis probably has the least balanced offense in the NFL, and as good as Manning has been, he's now somewhat predictable without a running game.
Benson isn't much of a pass catcher, but Manning can make him one. The team is already loaded with weapons in the receiving corps, too.
How else can Cedric Benson help the needy Colts backfield? Let's take a look.
7. He Can Handle a Workload
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The most carries for a Colts running back in 2010 was 129 for Dominic Brown.
Cedric Benson had a total of 321 carries, more than all four Colts rushers combined (Addai, Brown, Hart, James).
Without a steady workload, you lose consistency as a running back, and pose as less of a threat. Benson had two straight seasons of 300-plus carries, so he's equipped to make Indianapolis' offense more balanced.
The last man to carry the ball 300 times for the Colts was the mighty Edgerrin James in 2005. Back then, Indianapolis' offense was at its peak.
6. The 1,000-Yard Drought
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The Colts have not had a 1,000-yard rusher in three years!
The plateau isn't even considered to be strong anymore, but when reviewing how bad Indi's running game has been, this is a big deal.
Benson has rushed for 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons since taking over a full-time job in Cincinnati.
The Colts have ranked among the bottom teams in the league in RYPG for a while now, and it needs to change. Cedric Benson will be running in a division full of questionable run defenses if he joins Indianapolis.
5. Benson Helps Peyton Manning's Deadly Play-Action Fake
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Peyton Manning is a passing genius, and his play-action passing is usually a thing of beauty.
The problem though, is that Manning hasn't been as successful using it because teams know he's going to throw the ball.
As a result, the interceptions piled up for Manning in 2010, as defenses were able to drop more players into coverage even when Manning ran single-back sets.
It's clear that Peyton has plenty of receivers at his disposal, but that passing game isn't at its best when all of them are covered using zone defenders.
Manning loves to dump the ball across the middle to Dallas Clark, or whatever running back sold the fake, and he'll be able to do so easier with Benson.
4. Benson Decreases Peyton Manning's Workload
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Peyton Manning had a whopping 679 passing attempts in 2010, which was over a 100 more than his total in 2009.
At this point in his career, Manning has established that he can handle whatever is thrown at him, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be able to dominate every week.
As mentioned already, the more Manning was forced to throw in 2010, his passing efficiency decreased. He was forced to try to make up for lost rushing yards with shorter throws, which resulted in more incompletions.
With a threat like Benson in the backfield, Manning will be in the shotgun formation at a less frequent rate on first down.
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Again, the Colts need to do what they can to make the offense a more balanced attack.
As a result, Peyton Manning won't be blitzed as much, and he'll be able to fool defenses by mixing up formations, and using his unbelievable ability to audible at the line of scrimmage.
If you think about it, even when Manning had short yardage to go, he often didn't have the option to audible to a running play because the chances of the Colts converting on the ground were slim.
With a balanced offense, Manning will also see less double coverage on the outside against his best receivers, and Dallas Clark will be able to open up the middle much easier.
2. Rival the AFC's Elite Offenses
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Since the Colts addressed part of the offensive line issue in the draft, they now need a strong running game to compete against the rest of the AFC.
Anything less than a Super Bowl run is a failure for a guy like Peyton Manning, so you know he'd like to have an optimal offense functioning every week.
Cedric Benson doesn't pose as much of a threat as Edgerrin James did, but he still has plenty of years do to damage. Benson will thrive on an offense with an already established passing attack. During his two solid seasons in Cincinnati, Carson Palmer didn't make things any easier on Benson.
The Colts will always be considered a threat with Peyton Manning, but he can't do it all himself.
1. Peyton Manning's Window Is Closing
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As much as Bill Polian and Jim Irsay love Peyton Manning, they should reward him with a decet running game while he still has gas in the tank.
Manning is a guaranteed Hall of Fame quarterback, but with just one more Super Bowl under his belt, may be some will consider him the best quarterback of all time.
At this current time, Indianapolis is "wasting" his years in a way. Since the Colts won the Super Bowl in 2007, the front office hasn't made any key acquisitions, and the quality of both the offense and the defense has gotten worse.
Cedric Benson can only make this team better, and with a few added pieces on both the offensive line and the defensive secondary, this team can threaten for multiple rings before Manning retires.
Knowing Manning, he'll try to play till about 40 years old, but he has to be thinking about every wasted year, and how he could have won another ring. The bottom line is, the league's top talent needs some help, and signing Benson would be a start.