Packers Running Backs: Cedric Benson in the 4th Quarter

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Cedric Benson
Fourth-quarter fumbles can turn the Packers low-risk signing of Cedric Benson into a disaster.

For a team that doesn’t run the ball much, the Packers sure like to talk about the importance of running the ball.

Yes, a good running game is nice to have, but it’s not necessary, especially with a QB like Aaron Rodgers and the Packers talented WRs.

It would be nice to see the Packers get more production in the run game during the fourth quarter, though, especially when preserving a lead and killing the clock. That’s one of the reaons Ted Thompson plucked Cedric Benson off his couch and brought him to Green Bay.

Thompson probably had visions of Benson crashing up the middle late in games, moving the pile forward as the lead built on the arm of Aaron Rodgers became more insurmountable and precious seconds ticked off the clock.

That’s a cool vision and all, but how close is it to reality?

Benson in crunch time
Last season with the Bengals, Benson had 67 carries for 289 yards in the fourth quarter. That’s an average of 4.31 yards per carry.

Not bad.

When the Bengals were ahead in the fourth, Benson had 24 carries for 110 yards and a 4.6 average.

Again, not bad.

The first of those run-the-clock-with-a-lead carries was a 39-yard TD in the season opener against the Browns to ice the game. If you take away that long run, Benson’s average drops to 3.1 per carry.

Ball security was an issue with Benson when trying to preserve late leads. He fumbled three times with his team ahead in the fourth and lost two of them (on consecutive runs against the Cardinals in week 16).

With the game tied in the fourth, Benson had 14 carries for 41 yards, a 2.9 average.

When the Bengals were behind in the final quarter, Benson had 29 carries for 138 yards, a 4.6 yard average.

If you take away Benson’s 39-yard scamper, his overall fourth quarter numbers fall to 66 carries for 250 yards, a 3.8 average.

Final thoughts

  • These numbers should not be used to make a final judgement on how Benson will perform in the fourth quarter this season. I’m simply presenting this information for discussion. Put Benson behind the Packers’ offensive line in Mike McCarthy’s offense and maybe he’ll explode into a fourth-quarter juggernaut. Or maybe he’ll be so bad that the Packers cut him. We’ll see.
  • The fumbles scare me. You simply can’t turn the ball over late. You really can’t turn the ball over late when trying to run clock and close a game. If ball security appears to be an issue with Benson, the Packers should cut ties. Normally I’m fairly liberal when it comes to running backs fumbling (I don’t blame guys for trying to make plays. Sometimes s**t happens), but it seems be a legit problem with Benson instead of a guy coughing it up trying to do too much. He’s fumbled 12 times the last two seasons.
  • I don’t like using the “if you take away that one long run” argument, but I presented Benson’s numbers without the 39-yard run so we could at least discuss it. Yes, you want to see consistency out of your running back, but I don’t think any Packers fans will want to take away any long game-clinching runs Benson reels off while wearing the green and gold.
  • As great as the 39-yard run to ice the week one game was, that’s how bad Benson was in week 14 with the Bengals trying to preserve a 19-10 lead against Houston. Benson in the fourth: 5 carries, minus-5 yards, and a 20-19 Bengals’ loss.
  • Benson wasn’t the fourth-quarter go-to back with the Bengals. Bernard Scott got plenty of fourth quarter carries, too.

Final thoughts (for real this time)

The Benson signing has grown on me. It’s a low-risk move, so why not?

The only thing that scares me — check that, completely freaks me out — are the fumbles. Blowing just one game because of a late turnover can make that low-risk move look like a horrible decision.

Here’s hoping Benson covers up the ball, and makes some of those Ted Thompson visions a reality.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • Tarynfor12

    How many fumbles were the result of running into his own OL with the Bengals?

    I assure you..he’ll be hitting the ass end of ours a lot as our OL can’t create gaps.

    • Adam Czech

      Hey, if the defensive linemen can’t force fumbles, maybe the offensive linemen feel like they have to pick up the slack…..

  • AJ Leight

    I get the feeling that the fumbles might worry you a bit? That, and the words “final thought” have a very different definition in my dictionary than in yours. Note to self: stating the obvious and attempting to combat every possible critique do not increase the quality or fluidity of one’s writing.

    My final thought… The Packers are not the Bengals. If they want to run down the clock in the 4th quarter, they should do so by using their most trusted guys – aka the passing attack. Incompletions are not nearly as big of a concern for Rodgers, Finley, Jennings & Jordy as they may have been for a rookie QB and rookie WR.

    My final thought (really this time..) – I want the last ten minutes of my life back.

    • Adam Czech

      It took you 10 minutes to read 725 words?

      • AF_Cheddarhead

        No he took 10 minutes to write that comment.

    • Oppy

      I was going to go with something to hopefully inspire some deep introspective soul searching in you; but instead, I’ve decided to go with the simplicity of stating, “You’re a real douche bag.”

  • http://googlechrome madtowne

    Remember The Natural…Management brought in a guest speaker to talk to the team.
    Losing is a disease…Fumbleitus is a
    disease…Penalties are a disease…Maybe we need this guy’s help! LOL

  • Big T

    If you played for the Bengals you would fumble a lot too. The poor guy was just embarassed to play for such a crappy team, hence the fumbles. I predict 0 fumbles for Cedric this year…

    • Adam Czech

      Good point.

    • Tarynfor12

      So if the team has a bad game..he throws in the towel instead of playing to HIS best anyways and just fumble on purpose to make a point.

      Yeah..thats the guy I want.

  • Brooklyn81

    He will go along time w/o fumbling then when the game announcers in say week 13 or 14 say well you know he hasnt fumbled all season he will fumble the next play. Thats how it always happens

  • SchenySchen

    If you are going to use the “if you take away the long run” comment to remove a positive, then by the same token, you could say that the two consecutive fumbles were a fluke on the other side and thus “if you remove those two consecutive fumbles” he has only fumbled once in the 4th quarter. both are absurd. you have to look at the plays that happened, good or bad and judge accordingly. — GoPack!