Joe Mixon to be lead back for Bengals in 2018

After not getting his first start until week 9 of his rookie season, Joe Mixon will be the lead running back for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon had a slow start to his NFL career not starting a single game till week 9 of his rookie season. Most speculations speak to the ability to learn from veteran running back Jeremy Hill. Regardless of the reason, Mixon proved his abilities enough to earn the starting role in 2018 for the Bengals.

Between the limited role most of the season and lacking a competent offensive line to block for him, Mixon still ended his rookie season with 626 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. He also hauled in 30 catches for 287 yards. The 3.5 yards per carry speaks volumes of his talent if you watched even one Bengals game and saw the offensive line he lined up behind.

Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin spoke very highly of Mixon and his upcoming roles for the team in 2018 at the NFL Combine.

“Joe really came on for us in the later part of the year, second half of the season. He’s going to be our bell cow running back. We are going to combine him with Gio (Bernard) and we really feel good about that position group.”

Running backs coach Kyle Caskey had his own words to say about the young running back.

“A lot of rookies just fade away at the end of the year because they’re not used to the long season. But the thing with Joe is he got stronger and had his best performances late in the season.”

The news from Tobin is very refreshing for Bengals fans who were frustrated with his limited role till late in the season in 2017. Many fans were expecting him to be the lead back last season after being selected in the second-round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Mixon could be the missing link to the Bengals offensive success.

The last time the Bengals had a 1,000 yard rusher was in 2014 when rookie Jeremy Hill ran to make up for significant receiving injuries around the offense. The Bengals offense will have to commit more to the run game going forward if they plan to improve no matter the offensive line. The team ranked 29th in 2017 for rushing attempts between all backs per game.

Former quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor took over the offensive coordinator position early in the 2017 regular season and has been retained for 2018. He will now have a full offseason to work Mixon into a fulltime part of his playbook.