Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cedric Benson had his first 100-yard rushing performance since a 20-17 win by the Bears over the Chiefs in September 2007, a game in which Benson had 24 carries for 101 yards.
The game Benson turned in against the Jaguars was incredibly similar. He had 24 carries for 104 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown run and a long dash of 30 yards. Benson found the holes that were provided for him by a Bengals offensive line that gave one of its best efforts of the year to date. The TD run was a thing of beauty -- Benson went straight up the gut, nearly untouched. He also ground out some solid tough yards. He avoided the tendency that Chris Perry has shown for running up the backs of the offensive linemen or other blockers, or straight into the arms of the defenders in pursuit. He also caught a short pass of five yards.
If the Bengals can fine-tune their game plan, it would allow Benson to continue to perform as he did yesterday. Hopefully the bye week will give the team's coaches time to break down and digest this win and understand that they may have re-discovered the running game, just with the focus on Benson instead of Perry. Perhaps this would allow them to readjust and use Benson as the "feature" back and ask Perry to come in on third down, which is what many of us believed the plan was for Perry all along. They went overboard with Perry and tried to make him the "feature" back, which he is not. Put him back on third downs and see how it works.
Benson has been quiet and humble so far during his time in Cincinnati. He appears to be happy just to have a place to ply his trade. He showed Sunday that he has the talent, skills and drive to get it done. The Bengals need to take that into account and make it work for them.
The game plan against the Eagles should be 20-25 carries for Benson, more if they think he can handle it. His productivity will depend on how well the offensive line can perform against Philadelphia's defense. If they can play as well, or nearly as well, as they did this past Sunday, the Bengals will at least look respectable two games in a row.