RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Free agent
HT: 5-10, WT: 219, Born: 7-2-1985, College: Mississippi, Drafted: ---
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BenJarvus Green-Ellis carved out a nice role for himself on two teams as the ďpossessionĒ back that is effective at the goal line. However, Green-Ellis is far from spectacular in terms of talent. With Giovani Bernard emerging and the team having drafted Jeremy Hill, Green-Ellis could see his role diminish significantly. In fact, if Hill impresses enough in the preseason, Green-Ellis and his $2.5 million salary could be a camp casualty.
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - The lawfirm was held in check for most of the game. On numerous occasions, Green-Ellis was given the stretch play to run, and he just was unable to make anything happen on those plays. He doesnít have the speed to convert against the Bears on a play running towards the sideline. He did convert one 3rd and short and then had a nice solid run up the middle for a TD. BJGE also had a 9 yard gain in the first half where he went straight up the middle, and ran over a defender. Green-Ellisí numbers look pretty putrid in this game, and Giovani owners will be screaming bloody murder. Green-Ellis does look more suited to the short yardage role, and nothing in this game pointed to that changing. Heís a load to take down up the middle. But as an every-down back, he failed to impress or show any kind of play-making ability.
Week 2 - Even though Giovani Bernard showed the nation why he deserves to play, BJGE showed the Bengals coaching staff why heís the starter. In the first half, Green-Ellis only touched the ball four times, and in those four runs he ran very hard, punished defenders and had two 10+ runs. In the fourth quarter, however, Cincinnati used BJGE as the closer, and it worked. He had 13 carries in the final two drives. This came despite the fact that the Steelers were playing against the run. He has that ability to gain positive yards, and he showed why the coaching staff has confidence in him.
With 22 overall carries, it would appear that the coaching staff is not letting this devolve into an RBBC. However, there are some warning signs. BJGE and Bernard were on the field roughly the same amount of time in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Bernardís 13 4th quarter carries show that the organization views him as the closer. But when games are tight or when the Bengals are behind, will this be the case? The explosion that Bernard showed is cause for worry. Because if Green-Ellis sees a hole and goes for ten yards, as he did on a nice first quarter run, what would Bernard do in the equal situation?
Week 3 - On the second play of the game, BJGE went 10 yards, showing good patience, and just slithering straight up the gut for a first down. On the second drive of the game, the Bengals took over at the 2 yard line after a fumble, and Green-Ellis slammed ahead into the endzone for a short TD.
But then things got ugly. Green-Ellis was part of the four-drive turnover streak that should have cost Cincy the game, had the defense not played out of their mind. As the Lawfirm tried to get out of the backfield, he was hit from behind and coughed up the ball. After that, Green-Ellis was a complete non-factor in the game.
As Green Bay built a lead, and as the game moved into the second half, Giovani Bernard began seeing the field a lot more than Green-Ellis. Look for that trend to continue. For the first time this season, Bernard and Green-Ellis split carries 50-50, and at this point Marvin Lewis, the front office, the fans, the media and anyone with a set of working eyes can see whatís happening here. Giovani Bernard is taking over. Green-Ellis is quickly becoming nothing more than a low upside insurance policy for Bernard owners.
Week 4 - BJGE is quickly getting overtaken in the pecking order. The Bengals didnít run a lot, as the Browns are a tough defense. But the Lawfirm did nothing with his 6 carries. In fact, he really hurt the team when he failed to convert a 4th and 1 inside the 10 yard line. Green-Ellis allowed an arm tackle to trip him up and was unable to push ahead for the first. Green-Ellis is quickly becoming nothing more than a token starter, to probably keep him happy, and someone to keep Giovani Bernard fresh.
Week 5 - Marvin Lewis let BJGE run the ball quite a bit in the first half against his old team. Green-Ellis has been getting less and less playing time as the year wore on. In the first half, he was the main man at running back. On the first drive, he sliced through a big hole, made a nice cut and rumbled for 13 yards. Then he got the ball 3 more times in a row, but was unable to get a first down. Later on in the first half, BJGE got another big hole, exploded ahead, then made a few moves and got another 13 yard gain. In the 2nd half, BJGE got the ball inside the five, and though it took him 3 times, he put the ball in the endzone for the gameís only TD. Other than the two big runs at the beginning of the game, however, BJGE was bottled up. Of note is that there were three sets of downs where the Bengals handed the ball off to Green-Ellis all three downs. On all three of those possessions, he was unable to get the first down. Green-Ellis is what he is, a very powerful short yardage back, who does a very specific role very well. At least for this week, the Bengals made it clear that he is going to remain a factor in their running attack.
Week 6 - Green-Ellis ran tough and made a few surprising big plays as well. The emergence of Bernard seems to have fueled BJGE in recent weeks, and he looked better than ever this week. HE started off the first drive, with a nice run to the left side for 6. Then on the next drive, he went toward the left side, found a big hole and burst ahead for 7 yards. On the final drive of the first half, he really made a big impact. First he went straight up the middle, found a nice hole and got 8 yards. Then on the next play, he found a hole up the middle, ran through it and found himself in space with no one around him. He rumbled ahead for a big 25 yard gain that helped get the Bengals into Bills territory. After it seemed as if Green-Ellis was in danger of losing touches, heís clawed back into the mix with two tough, gritty performances. His tough running has no doubt been noticed by the coaching staff, and shows that he isnít going anywhere in 2013. He didnít have any real goalline opportunities, and he isnít a threat in the passing game. So his value is limited. But he makes quick decisions and runs downhill, getting positive yardage. When the holes are there, he is hitting them.
Week 7 - Deep in his own territory, BJGE saw daylight and took a handoff up the middle for 11 yards on a nicely blocked run. Other than that, he was pretty horrible against Detroit. Detroit has a solid front, and Green-Ellis showed little ability to elude the defenders. He was tackled for a loss on at least 4 occasions, and as usual provided nothing in the receiving game. The fact that he still is getting more carries than Bernard is not surprising, as heís been a bit better over the last few weeks. But as the year goes on, this offense is going to need more Bernard, and less BenJarvus.
Week 8 - Green-Ellis dished out another uninspiring 3 ypc performance. When the holes are open, he gets 5-6 yards. When there are no holes, he gets nothing. Of note is that he had two goalline situations in the first half, and he failed on both of them. On one of the plays, he ran into the rear of an offensive lineman and fell down. BJGE is a good blocker, and has the trust of Marvin Lewis. But at this point, every time he touches the ball, itís a wasted possession for this offense.
Week 9 - Bernardís injury late in the game might have been the real reason Cincy lost. When Bernard plays, the offense is scary. When Green-Ellis is on the field, the defense can forget about the rushing attack. Green-Ellis was his usual self, plodding ahead for 3-4 yards at a time, and doing little with the ball. He made one spin move, and then rumbled for 14 yards, which was his longest play of the game. But aside from that, it felt like a waste of a play every time he touched the ball. He even failed in two short yardage situations, which should be his bread and butter. But the coaching staff loves him, and he received 21 carries. Despite his consistent workload, however, heís completely useless in fantasy, and provides little to the Bengals, aside form consistent pass blocking.
Week 10 - Green-Ellis had a solid game doing what he does. He did a good job of getting positive yardage and establishing the running game. He did most of his work early on. On the first drive, he saw a massive hole, and rumbled ahead for 6 yards. Then later on in the first half, he got the ball twice in a row, and picked up a big first down, gaining 7 and then 3 yards. Green-Ellis is a good blocker, keeps Bernard fresh and helps to establish the run. But he is certainly no threat to make big plays and heís not going to affect the outcome of the game, as there is almost nothing he can do that Bernard canít do as good or better.
Week 11 - BJGE had one nice drive in the pouring rain late in the game. Green-Ellis found an opening and ran 2 plays for a first down, then found a huge hole on the left side and busted ahead for an 18 yard gain. But aside from that drive, he was completely ineffective. For some reason, Gruden seems to spend a couple drives each game with 2 consecutive BJGE runs to start the drive. Typically, these drives end up in punts. Running BJGE into the line and limiting Bernard's carries is short circuiting the offense.
Week 13 - Green-Ellis seems to be hitting his stride now. Perhaps defenses are tired and beaten up. But the 2-3 yard runs that he was getting earlier in the season are becoming 5 and 6 yard runs. Green-Ellis was getting great protection, and he made the most of it. It seemed that he wasnít stuffed in the line nearly as much as he has been in previous games. On the second drive, he got the ball in the redzone and went for 11 yards and a touchdown in two carries. Green-Ellis did have a crucial fumble late in the game after the Bengals were trying to ice the game. That fumble gave San Diego life. But once again the defense held. Then Green-Ellis was given another chance, and he made the Chargers pay. BJGE had 6 carries to close out the game, converting 3 first downs and completely killing the clock inside the 5 yard line. Green-Ellis was running with power and getting goalline looks. If perhaps anyone thought that the bye-week would be a chance for the Bengals to adjust the ratio of carries between BJGE and Bernard, that was proven to not be the case. The Bengals love the physicality of Green-Ellis and with the struggles in the passing game, they seem to be relying on the running game even more.
Week 14 - BJGE was called the hammer in this game by the broadcast team, as he pounded the Colts defense 17 times, and picked up two short yardage TDís. One of the TDís looked VERY iffy, as he clearly appeared to be down. BJGE had holes in this one, but just wasnít fast enough to get through them. Perhaps his physical style wore down the defense enough to allow Bernard to have his great day. But for the most part, he was pretty ineffective on film. He didnít get to the second level once, and his lack of speed was startling in comparison to Bernardís. The Bengals continue to pound the rock with BJGE, and itís hard to argue with the results of a 42 point performance. But if the Bengals can get a big back with some play-making ability, this offense could really be something special.
Week 15 - This was not the type of game that BJGE excels in. He only received 4 carries, as the Bengals fell behind quickly. Against the fast Steelers defense, Green-Ellis was no threat at all, and therefore had zero impact on the game.
Week 16 - On the Bengals first drive, after they took over at the Vikings 4, Green-Ellis charged ahead for a 4 yard TD straight up the middle. After that he was thoroughly ineffective. In fact the Bengals never could get the running game off the ground, as the Vikings held the point of attack and forced the Bengals to throw the ball. Perhaps that was a mistake by the Vikings, but as a result, Green-Ellis had no running room and had another poor day.
Week 17 - Green-Ellis didnít get a lot of carries, but he made the most of them when they counted. He consistently was getting holes and running lanes, and was able to pile on yardage after contact. If Green-Ellis can get a head of steam going, heís extremely tough to take down, as he showed in the second half with a powerful 11 yard run that got him down to the 1 yard line. On one of his runs in the first half, he made a move at the line, got daylight and then slipped trying to cut it outside for a bigger gain. It could have been big yardage if he hadnít slipped. Overall, BenJarvus Green-Ellis saw his role diminish slightly in 2013 as the arrival of Bernard brought some electricity to the backfield. But despite the loss of a few carries, Green-Ellis just didnít seem to have an extra gear, and defenses donít seem to pay much attention to him when heís in the game. Despite this lack of attention, he just canít make big plays, and has truly become a short yardage workhorse back that can occasionally break some tackles and get a 8-12 yard gain. The Ravens gave Green-Ellis less attention than any team has all season, as he found open holes almost every time he touched the ball. He ran physical and tough though, and is a good contrast to Bernard.
Week 18 - For the first time all year, this column will question why Green-Ellis didnít get the ball more! Green-Ellis can only be successful if he can get a head of steam going. If the defense tries to take away the run, he is useless. In this game, the Chargers were focused on stopping the pass, and the running lanes were there. He started the game with two tough runs up the middle, and ran very hard. On the first TD drive, he plowed a defender on 3rd and short and went for 7 yards. Then Green-Ellis opened the second half with a 12 yard run up the middle. Green-Ellis picked his way through the wide open defense and got a big first down. He followed that with a 3 yard pickup on the next play, and that was it. Despite the Bengals not being down a large amount, despite the fact that the pass rush was furious, and despite the fact that Green-Ellis was running the ball well, Cincy didnít use him for the majority of the second half. Not running the ball in the second half proved to be a poor decision, especially when it was pouring rain and the conditions were perfect for running the ball, as San Diego proved when they were on offense.