NEW ORLEANS — BenJarvus Green-Ellis played only one season during Jim Anderson's 29-year tenure as the Bengals running backs coach but he says it has been enough to literally open his eyes this past season when he posted career highs of 1,094 yards and 278 carries while racking up four runs longer than his previous best of 33 yards in his fifth NFL season.
"I didn't think it would be (as) big (of an) adjustment; it was hard," Green-Ellis said as he relaxed in his hometown during Super Bowl week and reflected on the transition to the Bengals.
"Coach Anderson really helped my career when he told me I can run with my eyes and not always follow the play. Once he told me that, the whole season turned around. It was kind of like I had a green light. You know how you get a green light in basketball and you shoot? That's kind of how it happened."
Anderson's retirement has had an impact on Green-Ellis. Anderson was a big reason BJGE signed as a free agent back in March after a recruiting trip that not only included a 90-minute meeting with Bengals president Mike Brown, but dinner at Anderson's home with his wife Marcia.
"When I left, it seemed like a pretty nice place. I made sure I didn't read about (the Bengals), I wanted to make up my own mind," he said. "Coach Anderson went through numerous different coordinators and numerous different backs from power backs to James Brooks, all different types of guys, from Cedric (Benson) to myself.
"Everyone has a different set of skills. He's been able to adapt to each person and to get those guys to play at their best. That to me signifies you can adjust your system to your personnel. To me that signifies a great coach. It's been an honor and pleasure to work with Coach Anderson with his work ethic, sending me cutups and film. You lose a guy like that, it hurts … a new person is always going to take an adjustment."
The leading candidate to replace Anderson appears to be Hue Jackson, a defensive coach this past season but an offensive coach that broke into the NFL working with the Redskins running backs in 2001 and 2002.