6

October

Packers Running Back Debate: Modern-Day Cedric Benson vs. Ryan Grant In His Prime

Cedric Benson Vs. Ryan Grant

Cedric Benson Vs. Ryan Grant

Welcome to tonight’s Packers running back debate featuring Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant.

Television stations throughout Wisconsin were very upset that the last presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney drew a 0.0 rating. That’s right, not a single person tuned in to watch the presidential debate in Wisconsin. 

Research by Nielsen suggested that most television sets were tuned to highlights of the Packers 28-27 win over the Saints, or simply turned off because the weather was nice and people would rather stare at trees and grass than either presidential candidate.

Whatever the reason, Wisconsin television stations need to recoup the ratings that were lost during the debate and the there’s only one tried and true method to make that happen: Packers talk. 

Specifically, a Packers debate.

Tonight’s debate features present-day Cedric Benson vs. Ryan Grant in his prime. They will be debating who is the better running back. Remember, this is present-day Benson and Grant in his prime (late 2007-2009). We’re not focusing on overall career arcs or anything like that. We’re only focusing present-day Benson and Grant from late 2007 through 2009. 

Without further delay, let’s turn it over to our moderator, ALLGBP.com staff writer and the only undefeated team owner in the ALLGBP.com fantasy football league, Mr. Adam Czech.

Moderator: Welcome Mr. present-day Benson and Mr. in-his-prime Grant. Here are the rules for tonight’s debate:  

  • Don’t swear. The youth of America is watching.
  • Don’t hit each other. We’re on the same team here.
  • Take your time. We bought like three kegs of beer for the audience and they’ll be mad if the debate is over before they had a chance to drink it all.

The first question: A Wisconsin newspaper recently suggested that Benson might be the best Packers running back since Ahamn Green. So, Is Benson the best running back the Packers have had since Ahman Green? Mr. Grant, you may answer first. 

Grant: Hell no!

Moderator: Language, Mr. Grant. Think of the children. 

Grant: Sorry. No bleepin’ way! Did you see me run in the snow globe playoff game? Did you watch me gain 1,200 yards in consecutive seasons? Did you see how I pass blocked for Favre and Rodgers? Our quarterbacks and receivers might have gotten all the glory, but I fit in just fine with the Packers system and did some really impressive things. Benson is just the current flavor-of-the-month.

Benson: Well, I will give Mr. Grant some credit. No former Packers back accomplished running into their own offensive lineman and falling over quite like he did. I ask you all, the people of Wisconsin, what is it you want in your running back: A softie like Grant that might break a big run every now and then? Or someone dependable like me who always moves forward and can make something out of nothing? Packers fans are tough. They want a tough running back like Green, and like me. 

Moderator: That leads to my next question: What specific skills do you bring to the Packers that the other guy doesn’t? Mr. Benson, you may respond first.

Benson: That’s easy. Consistency. Grant was anything but consistent. Lay a finger on him and he’d go down. If a hole wasn’t immediately there, he’d curl up into a ball. You had to put up with a lot of bad runs just to hold out hope that a big run might – and I emphasize the word might – eventually come. I’m always making positive plays. Over the course of a game, those positive plays add up and are more valuable than maybe making a big play every now and then.

Grant: Have you seen Benson run this season? He’s out of breath before he even reaches the line of scrimmage. His longest run is like 11 yards. I think Bulaga is faster and more explosive than Benson. The Packers offense is about big plays, gaining big chunks of yards. I made plays. Twenty-yard runs, 50-yard runs, screen plays taken to the house. That’s what scares opposing teams. Defenses could care less if all you do is gain four yards per run. Big whoop. I made big plays and Benson doesn’t. That’s what makes me better.

(There’s a commotion in the audience. People are putting down their beers, murmuring, and pointing at a man walking to the debate stage. The man is James Starks.)

Moderator: Uh, Mr. Starks. This debate is between Mr. Benson and Mr. Grant. What are you doing here? Please leave the stage. 

Starks: What about me?! What about James Starks?! They didn’t nickname me Neo for nuthin’! I’m the best Packers running back since Ahman Green! I stepped in and helped lead the Packers to a Super Bowl. What have these two chumps done? (Starks then drops the mic, points to his Super Bowl ring, and walks off the stage.)

Benson: How’s your toe, James? 

Grant: Or your hamstring. Or your shoulder. Or whatever other body part that’s currently injured.

Moderator: Ok. Let’s pretend that never happened. Back to you two. Mr. Grant: How do you address the criticism that you were never able to pick up yards unless given a large hole to run through? 

Grant: Look, I might not have been Barry Sanders, but when there was a hole, I made the absolute most of it. I made plays, big plays. I didn’t settle for three yards here, two yards there, five yards here, one yard there. I went for it all. I tried to hit home runs. You can find singles hitters anywhere. It’s tough to find home run hitters.

Benson: You don’t get negative plays with me. Even if there’s nothing there, I can make the first guy miss and pick up five yards. I’m always moving the pile forward. Imagine if the Packers had me last season and could kill the clock late? Instead they were stuck with Grant and had to put up with runs that gained nothing on first and second down. 

Grant: No negative plays? Like your 12 fumbles in the last two seasons?

Benson: You should know. Way to step up in the Giants playoff game and put the ball on the ground. That was real clutch of you. 

Grant: You played for the Bears!

Benson: You’re basically unemployed!

Moderator: Gentleman, that’s enough. Let’s keep it civil. Things appear to be getting out of hand, so let’s wrap it up. Make your closing statement. You each get a minute to convince Packerland why you’re the best Packers running back since Ahman Green. You’re up, Mr. Benson.

Benson: My fellow disciples of St. Vince: When the clock is winding down, and the Packers are clinging to a lead, ask yourself what type of running back you’d rather have. One who plows into the backs of his offensive lineman and falls face-first into the turf like Mr. Grant? Or one who plows into opposing defenders, always falling forward and keeping the clock moving like myself? I think the choice is obviously me. Ahman Green was a great Packer, truly a joy to watch every Sunday. His style was bruising and punishing, like a pit bull. Grant reminds me of a ballerina, not a pit bull. And I know all you, everyone from Wausau to La Crosse would rather watch a pit bull on Sunday over a ballerina.

(Audience applause)

Grant: My fellow Lombardi Faithful: Who cares about running the clock out when you can just get it over with and end the damn game? How many times have the Packers been successful trying to run the clock out with Benson so far? Zero. That’s how many times. With me on the field, there was always the chance that I’d take off for a long run, galluping down the sideline to put the Packers up by three scores in the fourth quarter and bury the other team. What do you get with Benson? If you’re lucky, maybe a five-yard run. If you’re unlucky, a fumble that could blow the entire game. See the recent Seattle game for evidence. You and I had some good times together, Packers fans. I was a solid back for multiple years. I know you all won’t forget that just because this other guy has manged to put together a couple of decent games.

(Audience applause.)

(Both candidates Lambeau Leap into the crowd.)

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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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13 Responses to “Packers Running Back Debate: Modern-Day Cedric Benson vs. Ryan Grant In His Prime”

  1. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    The way it usually goes is..if you don’t get in the playoffs,what you did doesn’t matter,if you don’t win in the playoffs what you did doesn’t matter but if you win in the playoffs,get your team to a SB and WIN that SB,thats what matters…James ‘NEO’ Starks and his play that got us the playoffs and eventual SB victory.

    Happy his back…we need him more than many will acknowledge!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Adam Czech says:

      Agreed with you last sentence, Taryn. Starks brings a little more explosiveness than Benson. As long as he’s decisive, Starks is a good back.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Slim11 says:

    Starks has to improve his durability. How he does so is the question. We have to assume he goes through conditioning similar to what Grant and Benson do. I suspect what he does on his own might be the problem here. Grant did a lot of conditioning on his own. I don’t know about Benson. Since the current CBA limits padded practices, game conditioning (hitting!) is more of a concern. This increases the importance of off-season conditioning programs of every team as well as what a player does on his own.

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    • Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

      Starks suffered a ‘shoulder injury’ in college and chose to sit his last year to ensure a 100% healing of it even though he knew he’d take a major hit in his draft status…has he had a shoulder problem since..no.
      He had a hamstring in his rookie camp as did CM3 but since Starks wasn’t an immediate need,,he was PUP’ed and contributed when he was needed.
      He almost suffered an ACL/MCL but got away with a high ankle sprain and the team DRs and coaching staff brought him back too early and hence the re-injury.
      He has turf toe and is by many being persecuted again..was Woodson persecuted as much when he missed time and his play suffered for the almost two years he had turf toe…no.
      Starks is durable but taking a shot to the knee which would have put many a RB out for the season+,he tries a return and is killed for it.No whammies,no shoulder injury…turf toe….durability questions…right.
      Lets not forget how the run game is/was utilized before this seasons scheme awakening..it makes things look worse than they are or were.
      Just saying..not arguing

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      • Slim11 says:

        I am aware of all these and that’s part of why I made the comments about conditioning. When any player is injured, conditioning (rehab, too!) is a challenge. Based upon what I read, we don’t know about Starks’ personal conditioning. Grant’s off-season conditioning program was well documented. My reference to CBA limits on padded practices and the shorter time allowed with the players prior to training camp, IMO, does all those players no favors, Starks included. If conditioning suffers, so does durability. That’s a sad fact of life.

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  3. topgbpackfan says:

    Mr Undefeated in in the Fantasy Football League goin down this week! Finley (Sam)gonna whoop your butt Readers will prevail!(LOL) Seriously good luck.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    Hilarious! Well done Adam, but you had Mr. Grant leave his best argument in the dressing room:

    “I did the job in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Mr. Benson has been here four games. You want to say Mr. Benson is better, talk to me in 2015.”

    End of debate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Adam Czech says:

      Well, Grant kind of said that in his closing remarks. But maybe he’ll hire you as a consultant on his campaign team so he says it as well as you just did in the next debate.

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  5. Barutan Seijin says:

    Grant signed with Washington last week. I’m suprised he didn’t challenge that “you’re basically unemployed” line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Adam Czech says:

      The post-debate fact checkers in the media were ok with it since Benson said “basically.”

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. jay says:

    If Bill James were doing football analysis, he would say that Ryan Grant got a lot of “outs” to get the production he did. Here “outs” mean negative or minimal plays. A handoff to Grant would usually generate 3 or 4 minimal to negative gains for every long 20+ gain. A Packers offense does not need big plays out of its running backs, it needs consistent solid gains.

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