the real problem with the chicago bears offense

Yeah, it turns out it wasn’t Rex after all. Who would have thunk it? (Oh, yeah, me).

But I wasn’t the only one that saw past Rex’s horrible passes and into deeper reasons for the Bears offensive ineptitude. The receivers drop passes and outside of Bernard Berrian, don’t get open frequently. The offensive line seems half as effective as they were in 2006, both in the passing game and in the running game.

But the real issue is Cedric Benson. The guy is not an every down, load-bearing back.

Sure, like I said earlier, the offensive line isn’t opening the same holes. But it can’t be doing that much worse than in 2006. And I’m not buying into the idea that many meathead Bears fans believe, that with Thomas Jones the offense would be cruising along. Check Jones’ stats with the Jets. He’s not exactly tearing it up.

But if a guy is going to be a focal point of an offense, a 300-carry, 1200-yard plus running back, shouldn’t he be the a top ten or top fifteen back? I think so. And yet, if the Bears had their choice, I bet there are a ton of running backs in the league they would start ahead of Benson for the remainder of this season.

In fact, lets go with that premise: How many active running backs would I, hardawayhatesyou, rather have as the Bears’ premier back for the remaining twelve games on the schedule?

  • Dallas: 2; Marion Barber is a definite and Julius Jones is a strong back who has proven he can be a number one back.
  • Philadelphia: 1; Brian Westbrook is an absolute yes–sure he might break down on his first carry, but if he’s healthy he is a beast.
  • NY Giants: None; You could make an argument for both Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, but neither have proven to me that they can be an every-down NFL back.
  • Washington: 2; While Clinton Portis has not shown the same burst in DC as he did in Denver, he’s definitely better than Benson. Ladell Betts went over 1000 yards last year and is a strong runner.
  • Minnesota: 2; Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor are both better than Benson.
  • Detroit: None; Like the Giants, Detroit has two backs–Tatum Bell and Kevin Jones–who one could argue are better than Benson, but I’m not ready to go there. Jones would be a definite yes if I thought he could last more than six games.
  • Green Bay: None; Maybe in a year or two Brandon Jackson will be a stud, but I’d take my chances with Benson at this moment. I’ll take their quarterback, though.
  • Seattle: 1; Shaun Alexander is a definite yes.
  • San Francisco: 1; Frank Gore, despite his recent struggles, is clearly a better option.
  • St. Louis: 1; Steven Jackson, see the Gore comments.
  • Arizona: 2; Here is where I might lose some people. Edgerrin James is easily better, but I’m also gonna throw Marcel Shipp as a better option than Benson. Shipp had over 800 yards on 188 and 224 carries, respectively, in 2002 and 2003. He also had 103 receptions in his first three seasons. So yes, I’d rather have Marcel Shipp than Cedric Benson. Wow.
  • Tampa Bay: 1; And its not Carnell Williams. I’m going to go with Earnest Graham, a guy who is just recently getting a chance. He runs hard and finishes his runs with a fervor I have never seen out of Benson.
  • Carolina: None; DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams are the two backs in Carolina, and while both might be better, I wouldn’t necessarily want both ahead of Benson. Foster can impress, but he is really injury-prone.
  • New Orleans: 1; Reggie Bush isn’t an every down NFL runner, but I’d take him ahead of Benson. And this number would be 2 if Deuce McAlister hadn’t just blown out his knee.
  • Atlanta: 1; Warrick Dunn has proven he can carry the load successfully. Jerious Norwood might pass Benson by the end of the season, as well.
  • Indianapolis: 1; Joseph Addai is a monster.
  • Tennessee: None; Although Vince Young might be a better running back than anyone on the Bears roster.
  • Jacksonville: 2; Maurice Jones-Drew has not played well in 2007, but I saw enough out of him last year to know that he’s better than Benson. And yes, I’m going to say I’d rather go to bat with Fred Taylor. Taylor is about as injury-prone as it gets, but when healthy, he might be one of the ten most talented and hard-working backs in the NFL.
  • Houston: None; No, Ahman Green is not better than Cedric Benson. Its close, though.
  • Cincinnati: 1; Rudi Johnson, no question, and Kenny Watson–if ever given an opportunity–could prove to be an adequate dual threat out of the backfield.
  • Cleveland: None; I am not a Jamal Lewis fan. Unless I can get the 2003 version.
  • Baltimore: 1; Willis McGahee is not a picture of health, but he’s clearly a better player than Cedric.
  • Pittsburgh: 1; Willie Parker, absolutely. And I’m tempted to add Najeh Davenport here, partly because he is a tough runner and partly because he once took a dump in a girl’s laundry basket.
  • New England: 1; I love Laurence Maroney, although he seems pretty injury-prone. Sammy Morris may be a solid back, but I’m not ready to say he’s a better option than Benson.
  • Miami: 1; Ronnie Brown’s resurgence this year has me flabbergasted.
  • NY Jets: None; This is interesting. I have to divulge that I agreed with the decision the Bears made in trading Jones and allowing Benson to be the number one guy. Jones, while hard-working and a leader, isn’t fast and doesn’t break enough tackles to be considered a better option than Benson.
  • Buffalo: 1; Marshawn Lynch has already proven to be what Benson should be, and he’s only been in the league for a month. Damn.
  • San Diego: 2; I’m not even going to argue about one of these; and yes, I think Michael Turner, while having never had more than 25 carries in an NFL game, has shown enough that I would want him to be the Bears running back in the last twelve games of the season.
  • Denver: 1; Travis Henry is better, although its hard to tell how good Bronco backs are because almost everyone can rush for 1200 yards there.
  • Kansas City: 1; LJ is better, no question.
  • Oakland: None; I’ll believe the Lamont Jordan renassiance when he carries the load for a full season with either sucking or blowing out a knee. Although I like the idea of Justin Fargas, Huggy Bear’s son, being an NFL star.

So there you have it. A total of 28 running backs in the league are better options than Cedric Benson. Six teams have two backs on their current roster who I would rather see taking the bulk of Bear carries for the remainder of 2007. And only nine squads have the same issues at running back as Chicago does. Of those nine teams, only Detroit, Green Bay, and Tennessee have winning records. Detroit won’t have one by the end of the year; the Packers and Titans have superhuman quarterbacks to even things out.

So there ya go. The answer is not actually Brian Griese, or someone else behind center; its the guy behind the guy.

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6 Comments on “the real problem with the chicago bears offense”

  1. benson needs to just not fall down if 3 fingers get put on him. seriously tap him and he’s down.

    what do you think of adrian ‘the other’ peterson?

    chester taylor, najeh, ronnie brown and michael turner and marcell shipp – i am not feeling it. be careful what you wish for with some of these and the rookies – i would have to see more than 4 games before crowning them.

    i thought the trade made sense too but the bears should have gotten more than a box of pop tarts and a fourth rounder for him.

    jamal lewis is still good – if you are gonna take fred taylor you would have to be able to tolerate lewis.

  2. emmettjones Says:

    Nice post. I’ve been saying this ever since week 1 to all of my friends, but none of them would listen to me. Cedric Benson is definitely the biggest problem with the Bears offense.

    And yes, I would take Najeh, just because of the clothes hamper incident.

  3. Steroids, Chester Taylor had over 1200 yards for a team with no passing game last year. He’s definitely better than Benson. Check out Ronnie Brown’s numbers….he had over 1000 yards in just 13 games last season and is the number one producer at RB right now, if you combine rush yards and receiving yards.

  4. when i was looking at brown’s numbers i noticed in his big game against oakland – he had one run for 60 yards. one sure tackle would have cut his total in half and bring his total for the season down to 251 for 4 games – a little over 60 yards per game. that was only one tackle away. however, i kept looking into it and even without that one play he would still be averaging over 4 yards per carry because he was only asked to run it 11 times in each of the first 2 weeks. id take that with any running back and no fumbles is pretty sweet too.

    point taken.

  5. slimslaby Says:

    Good points, I’m not by any means sold on Cedric Benson. I personally felt Thomas Jones was a loss.

    But also keep in mind that our run blocking seems to be atrocious, or the Packers defense really stepped up.

    Also, I think the Packers game shows that we can be far more effective offensively if we play field position football and not take big risks.

    Griese seems to be making far better decisions than Grossman.

  6. slimslaby Says:

    Is it possible that your assessment of “Receivers not getting open” was related to Grossman not effectively going through his progressions and finding open receivers? I saw a number of replays in those first few games that seemed to indicate that he did have options. During the Dallas game, Madden and Michaels even theorized the same thing you said, and then the replay showed there was a man open. Things that make you go hmmmmmm….

    Also, I know you don’t seem to believe that our Offensive Line can be that much worse than 2006. But against the Packers I saw Benson getting hit by his own blockers 3-5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. That’s called getting manhandled. I can understand holes not opening, but when you are being pushed into your own backfield regularly…. there is something really wrong.

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