When the Bengals march into Cleveland to play the Browns, the running game will be a huge part of the gameplan. There’s a feature back trying to emerge.
It was never meant to be a controversy of this magnitude. When the Bengals drafted Joe Mixon to add speed and depth to the running game. Three games into the regular season, the proposed three-back carrousel is not getting the results it was intended to produce. Ken Zampese is gone and there seems to be a leader emerging from the crowd.
During the giddiness of the Green Bay Packers’ explosion, new OC Bill Lazor made his selection known. The majority of the snaps were gobbled up by Joe Mixon. There’s no need to haul an attitude into Week 4. Picking a featured back was bound to happen. It’s fine to have a rotation of RBs in the stable. But, if the production isn’t meeting expectations, the best recourse is to get things back to normal. Let one runner take a stab at getting the 100-yard prize. If they all happen to get it done…great.
The Backfield Shuffle
Please stop thinking this is a personal attack against Jeremy Hill. It’s all about what the players are doing. And, as of now, it seems like Hill is the odd man out. In the home opener against Baltimore, Hill looked powerful and decisive. He was able to average 4.3 yards per carry. Then came the nightmare on Thursday night. The Texans held Hill to 17 yards on six carries. That was good for an average of 2.8 yards and may have been his epitaph. Hill logged seven trips against the Pack and ended the game with 23 yards. Nothing impressive enough to keep the starting moniker on his chest.
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Mixon has shown the speed and power that can make him the man for the job. Lazor trusted him with the ball 18 times in Green Bay and he piled up 62 yards. And, for the year, he has 107 yards rushing to fall into the number 35 spot in the league. Mixon’s carries inched up each week, showing the Bengals’ desire to get something going with the offense.
In essence, the best bang for the buck has actually been Giovani Bernard. Mixon’s acquisition was an insurance move for the waterbug. But, Gio is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. But, his receiving average is more wicked than his rushing tally. On five receptions, Bernard is second to Alex Erickson (15.5), with a solid 13.4 per catch. For a guy who was supposed to be recovering from a torn ACL, he’s torching defenses.
Who Gets The Nod?
If it’s total yards that can make the difference, Mixon is the leader of the pack with 166. Bernard is a close second, with 144. Rounding things out is–of course–Mr. Hill wit 72 all-purpose yards.
Essentially, the Bengals should be able to get the running game in gear, when they play the Browns. But, it’s a division rivalry that will feature two winless teams.
Needless to say, neither team wants to lose the Battle of Ohio. But, the Browns’ defense hasn’t looked stout in the three L’s. Additionally, this will be a good opportunity to see what Mixon can do against Cleveland. Hill’s exploits are legendary against the guys from up north.