The Bengals backfield has a ton of talent. The battle between Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon could go into overtime at FedEx Field.
When the Bengals and Redskins square off on Sunday afternoon, there should be a few things that stand out. The last time these two teams met, it ended in a mediocre tie (27-27) that left fans wondering what went wrong. Each team had chances to put the win on ice but didn’t capitalize or made mental errors that made the London trip…forgettable. But, the Week 3 showdown at FedEx Field should provide a different ending and provide answers for the Bengals. Though it’s not what Marvin Lewis wants to talk about, there has to be some separation between Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon.
Each of the Bengals first two preseason games has been like a heavyweight fight. In Week 1, the winner was clearly Mixon. He was an electrifying presence and looked like the running back fans had been waiting to see. Mixon cut, dashed and slashed for 31 yards on 6 carries. His 5.2 average was outdone only by quarterback Jeff Driskel with 6.8 yards per carry.
Mixon was used sparingly in the passing game and caught just one pass for 11 yards. But, the yardage was acquired through shifty moves and pure strength. In fact, he portrayed the abilities that made Jeremy the darling of Bengals fans during his rookie year of 2014.
Divide And Conquer
The Bengals next battle with the Kansas City Chiefs had a different showing from the running back room. Hill looked as though he wanted to impose his will on the defending AFC West champs. He was able to use better than average vision to find holes and gain good yardage against KC’s front seven. The biggest improvement in Hill’s game has been his ability to stay patient.
After gaining 26 yards on seven carries in the first game, his Week 2 numbers were similar. Hill was able to pick up 28 yards and improved his YPC to 4.7 on one less carry from the previous week. If the Bengals can manage to get him involved in the passing game, he could gain some ground on his competition. Mixon has snagged two passes and has 26 yards to his credit.
So far, the passing game has been the big divider between Hill and Mixon. Jeremy was targeted one time in the preseason opener with no results. The Bengals’ offense is usually balanced. But, there are times when OC Ken Zampese will lean towards the run.
What Needs To Happen
The dress rehearsal is going to be crucial for both backs. With Marvin Lewis needing good looks at all the starters, it won’t be easy to implement a running back duel. Yet, in essence, that’s what should go down. Having a three-headed monster in the backfield is a nice problem to have. Depending on how things flow, Giovani Bernard will be tossing his hat into the ring also.
The potential for a Week 3 showdown is there. But, the battle for starter may not be settled until the regular season rolls around. Either way, the Bengals have more than enough talent to cover the bets.