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.Powered by Sidelines