BenJarvus Green-Ellis on his former team: I wouldn’t ‘want to go back and change anything’
|10.02.13 at 9:57 pm ET|
BenJarvus Green-Ellis made a living running hard for the Patriots for four seasons between 2008-11. He also made a small fortune when the Cincinnati Bengals, in need a of running back heading into 2012, signed him to a three-year deal worth $9 million.
Green-Ellis earned a reputation as one of the most reliable short yardage backs in the game, averaging 4.1 yards per carry, not fumbling once and scoring 29 touchdowns in his four seasons. The Bengals thought they had a red zone force when Green-Ellis punched it into the end zone 13 times in 2010 and 11 more in 2011.
Green-Ellis hasn’t been quite the same player with the Bengals. He had just six touchdowns in 2012, his first season in Cincinnati. Most alarmingly, he actually fumbled for the first three times in his NFL career, losing two of them. He did set career highs in carries (278) and yards (1,094). This season, the “Law Firm’s” production is way down, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry, more than 1.4 yards below his career average.
While not saying he made a mistake signing in Cincinnati, Green-Ellis could not help but rave about the “Patriot Way” he learned while he was in New England and what it meant to him. How did the “Patriot Way” Green-Ellis learned in New England help him in Cincinnati?
“I could never go back and change anything that happened in the past, and nor would I want to go back and change anything, but the things that I learned in New England not only helped me on the football field but also in life,” Green-Ellis said Wednesday in a conference call from Cincinnati. “How you approach your business and how you go about being a professional at whatever you’re doing, not just a professional football player but just a professional in life, doing things the right way. The Patriot way has helped me tremendously throughout my career, not only throughout my career but coming into the league as a young man and also growing into a full-fledged adult now and having a family of my own. It’s things like that that I think the Patriot way helped me tremendously.
Is there a difference between the Patriot way and what he’s experienced in Cincinnati with the Bengals?
“No, it’s the same thing here,” Green-Ellis said. “Guys are working extremely hard and going about their business the right way, and I’m here also mentoring some younger guys that have just come into the league and just teaching them some of the things that I know as well. But we’re all about business as well over here; it’s been same thing since I left New England. It’s strictly business every time we step into the building, and we’re just trying to win games.”
Adding to the drama this season in the Bengals backfield is the emergence of Giovani Bernard, a 2013 version of former Pro Bowl back James Brooks, a smallish, tough-as-nails back who helped lead the Stripes to Super Bowl XXXIII.
How will it turn out Sunday? Stay tuned.
Here is the rest of the conference call with Green-Ellis on Wednesday:
Q: Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates?
BG: Yeah, some of the guys we’ve always been close with and we keep in touch. There’s always going to be ‘ our business relationship may change, but our personal relationships will always be the same.
Q: What have you seen out of the Patriots defense so far this season?
BG: They’ve been playing good team defense. They’re holding teams to where they can’t score the ball. Sometimes they may give up a few yards and everything, but [the] big thing is they’re not giving up a lot of points, I think it’s like 14 points a game. And those guys are a very physical bunch: all three of the linebackers, [Jerod] Mayo, [Dont’a] Hightower, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, all those guys are very physical. They’re just playing good team defense.
Q: Can you use your time here to your advantage at all, or is it just a completely different team and completely different defense? Can you lean on any of the stuff that you learned while you were here?
BG: It’s a new team, man. This league here, there’s a lot of turnover in this league, and obviously as you guys already know there’s always a lot of turnover from year to year in New England. So, some of the things are similar, some of the forms and techniques they use on defense are similar, but for the most part their defense has always been one that changes every week with the personnel. So we’re going to have to go out there and try to adjust when the game starts on Sunday.
Q: From your time here, you know what Vince Wilfork is like on the defense. Can you imagine at all what it’s going to be like without him playing on Sunday?
BG: Yeah, obviously it’s a big loss, and what Vince brings from not only being maybe the best nose tackle, best defensive tackle in the league to his leadership on and off the field is something that they’re going to have to lean on the other guys, Mayo and things like that for a time, for leadership right now, because you can’t really describe what you’re going to miss when Vince Wilfork is not out there, from not only being a standout player but also being a leader out there on defense.
Q: What have you seen on film, even in the Atlanta game when Vince went out, in how the defensive line reacted with some of those younger guys out there?
BG: Those younger guys have been playing this year, so it’s an adjustment obviously. They can’t do the same things that Vincent does, but the guy [Joe Vellano] came in, he got a sack. I remember watching the game and he came in, he got his sack, so obviously he brings some things that are going to challenge the defense as well. Every player has strengths, so we’re going to have to take away his strengths and make him play to his weaknesses. But obviously, like I said, you never can replace a Vince Wilfork, not in the middle of the season like this. But the other guys, the young guys that they have are doing a good job when he’s not in of coming in and playing well as well.
Q: How sweet would it be for you to beat the Patriots on Sunday?
BG: That’s what we strive for. Every week you go out there, you go out there and you play to win the game, and that’s what we want to do on Sunday. We have a good challenge ahead of us, but we play to win the game.
Q: Is there any friendly trash-talking going on between you and your former teammates?
BG: Nah, we’ve all been against each other countless times, a number of times in practice. I mean, it’s nothing new to us. It’s all about going out there, strapping it on, and going and playing ball.
Q: You mentioned Vince is irreplaceable and nobody obviously wanted to see him get hurt, but don’t you think that opens things up more for your offense with him not in there?
BG: Like I said, the young guys are doing a good job of coming in and doing their thing as well. They’re not Vince, but they come in and they’re not giving up plays and things like that, so they’re doing a good job of coming in and playing ball. Vince, him going down it’s hard to replace him, but the next guy has to step up, and that’s what you’re seeing from the young guys. The young guys are stepping up and playing ball.
Q: When you watched them on Sunday night, what do you think of some of the backs in the Patriots backfield, like Brandon Bolden for example?
BG: Those guys are doing a good job of playing football. They’re doing a good job hitting the holes and running hard. LeGarrette Blount had the big run of the night, and it’s always nice to see guys doing well, just doing a good job.
Q: Do you see any similarities between Brandon Bolden and yourself?
BG: I don’t really compare, I don’t really watch offense.