Bengals’ anemic running attack needs to perk up fast

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CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball against the Houston Texans during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium on September 14, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball against the Houston Texans during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium on September 14, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) /
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Week 5 will be a test for the Bengals on both sides of the ball. A major key to establishing grounds for a win will be the running attack.

When the Bengals drafted Joe Mixon, there were murmurs, moans and grumbles. But, the majority of fans were ready to experience the rejuvenation of a long-lost staple of the offense. There was a strong desire to see the running attack return to glory in Cincinnati. Four weeks into the season, the ground game is still anemic and in need of a quick spark. That jolt needs to happen against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

If there’s one thing the AFC North demands, it’s definitely a strong running game. And if the attack isn’t well coordinated with the pass, it can make the offense one-dimensional. With Bill Lazor calling the shots, the Bengals have looked sharper. Who am I kidding? Andy Dalton has looked sharper. When the ginger is on point, the whole offensive unit clicks. So, what’s going on with the run?

Lately, Jeremy Hill has taken a backseat to the festivities. Mixon has been getting the majority of the carries and Giovani Bernard has come in for his otherworldly abilities in space. But, the pure action of taking a handoff and bursting through the line hasn’t looked good for the Bengals.

Related Read: Getting The Backfield Right

Here’s the bottom line on that: the Bengals are not a rushing team. Yet, in a division that has seen its share of great running backs, it would be wise to get the running attack in gear.

Running The Rock Makes It Easier 

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That may sound like a line for Mr. Obvious, but it’s something the Bengals definitely need to establish. A well-executed play-action fake can do wonders for setting up the run. It stands to reason that the passing game has to be clicking as well. In Weeks 2 and 3, the Bengals have had no problem moving the ball through the air. Now, the key is to get the road graders on the line to create gaps and get consistency with the backs.

"“Obviously we need to do a better job of running the ball,” center Russell Bodine offered via, Cincinnati.com. “Stats-wise, some of that comes from the situation of the game. That is what it is. But, obviously, we really need to get four yards a carry on offense. We haven’t really done that consistently up until this point. That’s our goal, and we need to get to that. We just need to find a way to do it.”"

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When Bodine mentions needing four yards per carry, he’s spot on. Going into their battle with the Bills’ top-ranked rushing defense, the Bengals are averaging 88.8 yards per game and mere 3.3 yards a pop. To keep teams from making Dalton beat them with the pass, the running attack needs to become a focal point sooner than later. Not to mention, a consistent and balanced mix of ground and air lends to ball control. That’s a good way to keep the defense fresh and limit touches by the enemy.

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