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Cedric Benson Could Make Chicago Un-Bear-Able

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Nothing will force me to end a blogging hiatus quicker than a classic NFL cover-up operation. And that is what we have brewing in the City of Chicago, where Cedric Benson is the improbable frontrunner for the Bears’ starting running back position.

On the surface, there is nothing terribly egregious about the running back battle taking place in the Chicago organization. Thomas Jones is a veteran looking for a contract extension and Benson is a recent #4 overall pick that the front office would like to see take over the starting gig. Hey, teams draft new blood all the time in anticipation of replacing an aging or expensive running back – nothing inherently wrong with that. The problem comes from the fact that Benson has been nothing but worthless for his year in a Bears uniform, while Jones served as the heart and soul of the offense in 2005.

To truly understand the situation, you have to go back to April of 2005. The Bears had Jones slotted in at running back with glaring needs surrounding him at the offensive skill positions. Sitting on the #4 pick, Chicago had a desperate need for a wide receiver (Troy Williamson went #7 to the Vikings) and quarterback depth behind (ahead of?) Rex Grossman (Aaron Rodgers famously slipped to the end of the first round), yet they doubled up at running back with Benson.

Almost immediately, the Bears wanted Benson to be the guy, but the prized rookie held out, showed up to camp ridiculously late, got off to a slow start, and eventually got hurt. It was pretty much a wasted year for the rookie out of Texas. Meanwhile, Jones finally realized the talent that made him a #6 overall pick coming out of Virginia. He ran for over 1,300 yards (the second Bears running back to EVER do that, joining some scrub named Walter Payton), played hurt, ran into eight-man fronts, and generally carried a horrific Bears offense on his back. Had Chicago drafted Williamson, they could have simply extended their workhorse back and everyone would be happy right now. Not to mention the fact that they would have a legit deep threat on the roster.

Instead, they drafted Benson, which is turning out to be a huge mistake. However, instead of just accepting that mistake and moving on, the organization seems dead set on trying to validate the selection of Benson. They are refusing to extend Jones’ contract and the front office is still pushing for Benson to be the starting back. Jones, understandably frustrated, decided to express his displeasure at not getting an extension by missing VOLUNTARY workouts. For this, he gets demoted to the #2 running back, behind Benson, who, to my knowledge, has yet to do jack for the Bears.

The latest development has Benson leaving a game early from the sidelines, getting ratted out by teammates that obviously hate him, and then getting bashed by still more unhappy teammates in the media. It is no surprise that Bears players want their man Jones to be the starting back. This is a guy that went to battle for them week in and week out and he’s being run out of town for a mistake. It is just a sham.

And the worst part of it is that the Bears were the #2 seed in the NFC last year. Why mess with a good thing? They have the best defense in the league, a strong running game (they don’t even need Benson for depth – they have the hard-running Adrian Peterson in the fold), and a potential upgrade at QB with Brian Griese on the roster. In a weak conference, everything is there for a Super Bowl run. Instead, things are about to blow up in their faces.

All because they are trying to cover up a dumb draft choice.

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About Adam Hoff

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    Ah, just give the job to P.J. Pope and be done with it.

  • Bill

    You’re on crack if you think they Bears should give up on the #4 overall draft choice.

    Do you think it’s impossible for players to improve once they get on the field? Benson has barely got a shot. And it’s very stupid to confuse a player being injured with a player just not being very good.

    Don’t forget, It wasn’t too long ago that Thomas Jones was a first round BUST with the cardinals and then a washout with Tampa Bay. He improved to the point where he’s now an average running back. Unless you talk to the average Bears fan who for some reason thinks 1300 yard seasons are a prelude to a Canton acceptance speech!

  • berkeley joe

    I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily time to give up on Benson, far from it, but Jones mos def at least deserves to start at the beginning of the season, especially if teammates are throwing benson under the bus as you indicate.

    i continue to find it odd how much stock NFL teams take in these “voluntary” workouts. why continue to call them voluntary when they are obviously anything but? (unless you’re edge james, TO, or some other prima donna that does WTF you want irregardless)

    nice post…

  • Justin Berry

    Troy Williamson?
    Aaron Rodgers?

    They are sooo obviously Canton bound. Perennial pro-bowlers who would thrive behind that paper wall of a line. What were they thinking.
    Benson did very well down in Texas. Are you saying The University of Texas has a better offense than Chicago?

  • Adam Hoff

    I see where both comments are coming from, but they sort of miss the point. I’m not suggesting that the Bears should just give up on Benson, but the fact that they are trying to force him into the starting role from the front office smacks of covering up their past mistake. They had a very adequate starting back and a capable backup in Peterson, which is why I suggested that perhaps they should have drafted Williamson or maybe even Rogers. I’m not saying they are Canton bound, which was a fairly absurd leap to make. However, if you add up the various pieces, the Bears would be in a much better situation right now with an extended Jones entrenched at tailback and Troy Williamson (one of the most exciting young receivers in the game) as a deep threat. I don’t think that is really all that debatable.

    (Also, what difference does it make for Williamson how good the Bears’ line is? I’ve never heard of a receiver described as “thriving” behind an offense line. I guess it matters how much time the QB has to throw, but wow, what a stretch.)

    So, to summarize: no the Bears shouldn’t completely give up on Benson (although you can make a good case they never should have drafted him, which was actually the sentiment at the time of almost every Bears fan I knew), but no, they also shouldn’t start him over a more deserving guy just because they want to validate taking him in the draft.