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Breaking Down the Packers Signing of Cedric Benson

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Breaking Down the Packers Signing of Cedric Benson

If you closely followed the transaction schedule during the first seven or so years of Ted Thompson's reign as the Green Bay Packers general manager, you probably wouldn't have a clue who is running the franchise over the last four months.

Once a rare participant in the free-agent market—instead choosing to build his football team through the draft and college free agency—Thompson has apparently evolved since the end of the 2011 season.

He signed free-agent defensive lineman in Daniel Muir, Phillip Merling and Anthony Hargrove and a replacement center in veteran Jeff Saturday. During the draft in April, Thompson aggressively moved up several times to nab names such as Jerel Worthy and Casey Hayward. Before the preseason even began, Thompson was forced to sign Reggie Wells, a 92-game starter in the NFL, to help patch up a banged up second unit offensive line.

And Friday, it appears Thompson has pulled the trigger on free-agent running back Cedric Benson.

12 months ago, could anyone have envisioned Thompson making any of the aforementioned moves?

But back to Benson. I find myself surprisingly neutral on the signing. There's positives and negatives, each tugging one way but failing to win me over.

Here's a quick breakdown of those positives and negatives:

Positives

  • Benson has produced. Three-straight 1,000-yard seasons doesn't just happen by accident, especially in today's shootout-style NFL game. And after a difficult start to his professional career, Benson turned himself into a No. 1 back. That counts for something.
  • He's stayed healthy. Over the last two seasons, Benson has missed just one game. James Starks and Alex Green—the Packers 1-2 at running back before the signing—obviously can't say the same.
  • Perfect fit for the four-minute offense. The Packers' offense struggled to put the lid on close games last season, mostly due to their inability to run the football in the four-minute situations. Benson brings a tough, inside runner who can pick up the gritty yards late to close out games.
  • Benson can pass protect. According to Pro Football Focus, Benson allowed just one sack, one quarterback hit and two hurries in 74 pass-blocking snaps last season. He's widely considered one of the best blocking backs. In the Packers offense, pass-protecting skills from a running back are heavily weighed.
  • Maybe this lights a fire under James Starks. While I thought he was a different runner to start 2011, he's been a dud so far to start 2012. Thursday's debacle in San Diego was unacceptable, as Starks dropped an easy catch and then fumbled an exchange with Aaron Rodgers. One could argue he's regressed in his third NFL season.
  • Finally brings some experience. Outside of Starks, the Packers running backs have a combined 21 NFL carries. Without Benson, the Packers backfield likely ranks as the most inexperienced in football. Benson brings seven years and 1,529 career carries.

Negatives

  • Benson is 29, and will be 30 in October. There's a lot of wear on his tires, and it's no secret why he was still without a team mid-way through August.
  • He's been in trouble with the law. The game he missed in 2011 was due to a suspension that resulted from two separate assault arrests, and the Bears released him in 2008 after two drunken driving incidents.
  • No running back has fumbled more over the last two seasons. After coughing it up seven times in 2010, Benson put the ball on the ground five more times last season. Ball security is important to Packers coach Mike McCarthy, so we'll see if there's any correction there.
  • Far from the most efficient running back. Benson's career rushing average is just 3.8, and two of the three 1,000-yard seasons came with averages under 4.0. He needs a lot of touches to be produtive.
  • Not the greatest receiver out of the backfield. Benson has 106 career catches, but he's not going to be an upgrade as a pass-catching running back.
  • Benson gets far too much credit for being a tackle-breaking back. Check out Pro Football Focus' elusiveness rating from 2011 here. Benson ranks near the bottom, while Starks is fourth best. Interesting.
  • If Benson sticks, he'll steal reps and snaps from younger players like Green and Saine. Eventually, those guys need looks. And any chance of Marc Tyler making the 53-man roster probably just went up in smoke.

There's a lot to digest with Friday's (likely) move, including the fact that long-time starter Ryan Grant remains unsigned. Grant is younger, knows the offense, stays out of trouble and was a pillar in the locker room. Yet he's without a job and Benson is likely preparing for a move to the east side of Wisconsin.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (63) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

bigfog's picture

Wow. They must really dislike Grant or have some inside knowledge the rest of us don't.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Gotta be the latter. He's been nothing but a solid person in GB. But you're right... they MUST know sumpin! I'll ask Ted at Canasta tomorrow night... stay tuned.

GBP 4 LIFE

mark's picture

ha!

Drew's picture

He's slow now. He's never been the same back since his injury.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Meh.

GBP 4 LIFE

LDickey's picture

I think MM marched into TT's Office this morning and yelled "GET ME A F'ING RUNNING BACK!". TT crossed the Rubicon and found a hung-over Cedric Bensen.

Brian's picture

While Cedric Benson may have appeared to underachieve, the Bengals did not have a good O-line last year, went pass first, and yet the guy put up over 1000 yards. If he cam manage to do the same, giving the running game some credibility, this is a great pick-up for the Packers. I like it. Go Pack!

marcopo's picture

this may be closer to the truth then anything else.

woodson4president's picture

Weird to think of grant as younger than anybody. Seems like i have been watchin him underachieve forever.

woodson4president's picture

And 3.8 x's 3 equals?......A first down :)

ohenry78's picture

Exactly! :D

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

HOLY SHNIT! Not the right place but I just had to say... I thought we were bad as far as injuries go... The Bengals have had 3 STARTERS carried off the field in the first five minutes. Un. Friggin. Real.

GBP 4 LIFE

Chad Toporski's picture

Perhaps the "safer" offseason is having unintended consequences...

*puts his "Jump to Conclusions" mat away*

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

LMAO Chad. I swear to Jebus that I brought that up to a coworker TODAY! 100% serious. Love that movie, the guy I was telling about the jump to conclusion board has a little Milton in him.

Chad Toporski's picture

lol... Don't go taking his stapler!

That movie is a classic. Never gets old.

GBPguru's picture

That wasn't Milton who created the J.T.C.Mat... you know that right? Great movie nonetheless.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Jesus F'ING C man, nobody said it was! Who the hell do you think you're learning bout some Office Space? A guy also works where I work that has some Lumberg in him, that guy is me... I'm a total Dick!

Later, I have a meeting with The Bobs.

GBPguru's picture

Haha, nice

jeremy's picture

What was the NFL and The NFLPA expecting? The hitting in training camp is controlled and helps the players bodies get ready for the real thing. Players bodies need several weeks of progressively heavier physical contact to adjust to the impacts of pro football. With the huge reduction in padded practices and OTA's, they are basically dumping guys who have been doing gym workouts for the last 6 months onto a football field and surprise, surprise, they get hurt. How could we have not seen this coming?

Tony's picture

Fine with me. I'll take a 1,000 yard back for the last 3 years any day.

Let's just stay HEALTHY for crissakes

wiscokid's picture

After the performance that Starks turned in, not much of a surprise the Packers picked a RB up. This has to be an upgrade. Of course, that isn't saying much.

Now the question is, who are they going to pick up to replace Bush?

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Don't get your hopes up man.

woodson4president's picture

Anybody else blown away by how poor md jennings n hayward looked after all the great things that have been posted on here???? I really thought hayward would impress, but he played terribly. The one pass he didnt even turn n look for the ball or he coulda had an eeeeasy pick. I hope they both pick it up!

Jamie's picture

Some people just shouldn't watch football.

murphy's picture

Some people should just post valuable responses if they have differing opinions.

jbeebe1571's picture

If you watched carefully, Heyward got burnt on a stunt move, then accelerated to match in coverage. At that point, he ceased playing the ball and then played man to man on his receiver. When the ball came in he DID in fact get his hand up on time but his opponent came down with it. At that point he needed to move on to the next play. Everyone else did too.

jeremy's picture

Heyward is a very young football player in his first pro game. I thought he showed the ability to recover by even catching up on that play. He's going to be good.

woodson4president's picture

Whoops...forgot to say that i hope House isnt hurt too bad. That guy came to play! With that 31 on its like AL never left!

woodson4president's picture

Whats that supposed to mean?

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

He disagrees with your assessment of their play. That's what I gathered.

woodson4president's picture

Well i dvrd if he needs to see it again. Ill watch football any time i please, i think people should keep dumbass opinions to themselves. U disagree fine, dont be a smartass about it.

Lucky953's picture

The ball was underthrown, otherwise it was a TD, but if you're expecting a rookie corner not to get beat occasionally...Deion Sanders he ain't. I read he's a real student of the game so he'll watch the film, learn from the mistake and I'm betting he doesn't get beat by the same move again. Starks is a much bigger concern than Hayward right now.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

" he’ll watch the film, learn from the mistake and I’m betting he doesn’t get beat by the same move again."

Well put Lucky. That's all we can ask for. Christ man, rookies are going to get beat, that's why there's preseason, to work the kinks out.

I just re-watched the first half, and I found myself thinking exactly what you said on that Gates TD... As long as Jennings learned from that piss-poor coverage, I can live with that play, even if he's not a rook. But if that Fkr does it again...

ROOKIES ARE A GARDEN, DIG 'EM!

Lucky953's picture

Maybe Starks got complacent and thought he was THE MAN when they didn't sign Grant. Wrong!

djbonney138's picture

1st) I was getting pretty jazzed up as I read the pros, the cons made me sad.

2nd)I am kind of shocked that Grant hasn't gone anywhere. The ball security thing alone, advantage goes way towards Ryan Grant.

3rd) The Dorito Taco is the greatest thing to happen to fast food since the fry at McDonalds.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Your third, is possibly the finest point ever made at CHTV.

DORITOS LOCOS 4 LIFE

bill from jersey's picture

Pretty funny to bring in benson.I for one think he is pretty talented,always played on real shnitty teams. Maybe....i said maybe, his talent will shine on a team like this. TT must see something in him. Cant wait to see him play against the bears

Michael's picture

What is interesting is have we even signed him? I mean, I haven't seen anything that confirms a signing? Wouldn't it be funny if all this debate happens and TT is like yeah we are happy with what we have....

Personally I would be happier if we signed a FA left tackle. I wouldn't be unhappy with a minimal contract Benson signing mind you, I just think we are so much more in trouble with the left tackle position than running back at this point. Of course maybe both Newhouse and sherrod are about to return and TT knows that, which would drastically change the situation. That's my hope at least.

Fish/Crane's picture

Reflect Marshawn Lynch

packsmack25's picture

May have something to do with transaction news not being official until the league office opens on Monday? Not sure.

WinnerWinner's picture

How many times has Benson had the chance to run against six men in the box? Because that it what he'll be doing in short order.

PackersRS's picture

yay a fumbler

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

LMAO

Bearmeat's picture

I'm not laughing. No matter how great Favre and Ahman were in the early 2000's - they were always one play away from a turnover. I was a nervous wreck watching those really good Packer offenses.
-
The Giants game aside, this offense just does not turn over the ball. I'd like to keep it that way.
-
If Benson fumbles, HE GONE!

Jim's picture

That's the biggest difference between A-Rod and Bert. How you feel when they take a long drop and air it out. With Bert, you always held your breath until someone caught it - of course, often the other team. With A-Rod, you lean forward expecting a completion or a dropped pass, but not a turnover. How many 4th quarters were lost by a Bert interception?
Benson vs Grant is a toss up, but without a stout O-Line we have bigger worries than who's going for that 4 yards in a cloud of dust.

Oppy's picture

Don't get the rash of comments recently about the Packers having such woes on the offensive line.

Bulaga..Sitton..Saturday.. Lang.. And, yes, even with Newhouse at LT..

How many teams in the NFL can say they have a better OL than Green Bay at this point?

I'll take that O line.

Rocky70's picture

"At this point" ---- Unfortunately, there's still a long ways to go before game 1 & the season's 16 games long.

Depth, Ooppy, depth. An expanded view may help your perspective abit.

GBPDan's picture

Don't like the fumbling prob, but I hope he is still signed. Pass blocking is a plus and he's a better runner then what we have at this point. I agree, I'd rather see a back up LT signed.

woodson4president's picture

Hows all this positive news about saine still keeping him at bottom of depth chart?

Kevin's picture

Who did Benson take the place of on the roster? Did someone get released or put on IR?

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

My sources tell me he's not yet signed.

Kevin's picture

Thanks. That makes sense since the Packers don't even have Benson on their official roster yet.

Oppy's picture

He's signed.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

My sources confirm this.

Scott D's picture

I've never once seen a Benson run and thought that guy is fast shifty tough or in any other way impressive he's Ryan Grant with fumbles and a rap sheet

cincypackfan's picture

is it just me or did it always take Ryan Grant until about Thanksgiving to read his blocks and hit his stride? maybe that's why Benson got the nod. i think he will be a good contributor for a year or two, just what's needed. likely cheap, too...

Rocky70's picture

Look at it this way: With Cedric now a GB Packer, if he carries the ball more than 15 times or so in any game, the Packers will have surely won that game. Can't say the same for any other RB on the roster.

Alex Green needs another 1/2 year to recover. In the meantime, Benson's better than anyone else on the 53.

Oppy's picture

How can you make that determination?

I mean, how many times in the last 3 years have you even seen a single Packers RB get 15 carries in a game?

Twice maybe? And I'm being generous.

Lucky953's picture

Rodgers is going to have more third-and-fours and fewer third-and-sevens. That alone will help the left tackle problem.

marcopo's picture

McCarthy can tell the world a thousand times that the GBP's don't need no f-ing running game. That doesn't change the obvious. Having a running game beats not having one. If nothing else, Benson will shake the tree, and from what I've seen, the tree is need of a stout vibrator. But before everyone gets too nervous, remember what preseason is for. I'd rather see struggles then a polished machine that could breed complacency at this point.

Oppy's picture

Don't tell me not to get nervous.

When somebody pulls out a "stout vibrator" capable of shaking trees, I get nervous!

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

I get smiley.

TXCheese's picture

Agreed Marcopo, this may be nothing more than a wake up call for Starks. I certainly would have preferred Grant though. The fumbling issue really bothers me.

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