Bengals’ backfield will improve with competition

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Sep 25, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium. The Broncos won 29-17. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium. The Broncos won 29-17. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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The competition between Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard will be a treat. Bengals fans will get to see three talented backs battle for position.

One thing that always seems to get the adrenaline flowing is competition. The Cincinnati Bengals assured themselves of that when they picked up Joe Mixon in the 2017 Draft. He has come into the city under a whirlwind of controversy. But, a healthy battle in the backfield will ultimately be great for the players and will give fans something to look forward too.

Numbers don’t lie. The Bengals were a mediocre team when it came to the running game. The biggest drawback was the disappointing season turned in by Jeremy Hill. It’s no secret that he became the darling of the backfield in 2014. He was on pace to receive OROY honors. But, that eventually landed in the lap of Odell Beckham Jr.

With the addition of Mixon, there is early talk about the former Sooner being considered for the honor also. Joe has yet to throw a stiff arm in league play and he’s getting accolades. But, that’s precisely what the Bengals’ need and want for the year. It’s time to see what will happen when Hill is pushed. Granted, he was injured for most of the season and never said a word. But, this will be his time to either shine or sit down.

Gio And Joe Similar 

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Even if Hill gets his focus back and retains the starting position, Mixon will be on the field. With a style that’s very similar to what Giovani Bernard brings, there shouldn’t be much of a dropoff in the attack. Bernard is used primarily as a change of pace back to throw the defense off. Get him out in space and the jets turn on. He can break a defender’s ankles in a matter seconds. But, there’s the injury concern. 

Unfortunately, that’s what the Marvin Lewis and Co. are doing with Mixon. To a certain degree, there’s a chance that Gio may have some lingering effects from knee surgery. At the end of the day, the NFL is a business. It’s about putting a product on the field that will produce wins and generate ticket sales. Mike Brown wants to have butts in seats with sellout crowds. Drafting Mixon was a no-brainer. After his second visit to the Nati, it was only a matter of time before he wore the Orange and Black.

Bernard has the ability to stretch the defense by running passing routes. Joe can be a pest downfield and in the slot too. Don’t forget, he snagged 65 passes for 894 yards in two years at Oklahoma. Dare we take that to four years? Now, his average is 130 receptions for 1,788 yards and a sparkling 13.8 average. That should be enough for competition.

The Odds

As the season progresses, Hill will either come on with the passion that he showcased in 2014 or fade away. With this being the last year of his rookie contract, he has to shine. This is his audition for another team, if he fails to impress Bengals coaches.

Next: Chasing The Lombardi

There’s always the chance that Joe doesn’t pan out and the Bengals look like idiots for taking him. But, as long as the competition is amped up among the running backs, he was well worth the pick.

Let the friendly–yet nasty–competition begin. In the words of Terrell Owens, “Get ya popcorn ready.”

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