Bengals running back Giovani Bernard has proven to be a potent offensive presence in his rookie season, with last week’s weaving touchdown run against the Dolphins serving as the latest illustration of that potency.
When you put Bernard’s explosiveness alongside the more plodding running style employed by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, it seems a bit incongruous that Green-Ellis has remained ahead in touches as the year has unfolded. That’s what’s happened, though, and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said that there’s no change in the works to the way that playing time is doled out in the backfield.
“So to say we’re going to give the ball to Gio 25 times each week is kind of unrealistic. He needs spelling. He needs a bigger back in there like BenJarvus to take 10, 12, 15 carries and a game … it keeps him fresh, too,” Gruden said, via the team’s website. “Some of these guys, it’s important for them to be fresh, fast. That’s the way he is. He needs to have full stamina and be fresh coming out of the backfield running fast because that’s what he is. If he’s tired after his 17th, 18th carry and all of a sudden he becomes a 4.8 guy and tired, he becomes an ordinary guy.”
When Bernard is in the game, there’s an unpredictability to the Bengals offense that doesn’t exist when Green-Ellis, who has two catches all year, is in the backfield with Andy Dalton. While that doesn’t mean he should be getting the ball 25 times a game, it does suggest the Bengals would be better off giving him the bigger slice of the platoon pie in the second half of the season.