After ranking second to last in rushing yard averages last season with a putrid 3.6 yards per carry, fans should not let that slow down their optimism regarding the running backs group. The Bengals have an incredibly talented and versatile backfield that will now be led by second-year back Joe Mixon. Giovani Bernard will once again be the complimentary back that will help Mixon take this backfield back to the top half of the league.
Both running backs are weapons in not only the running game but the passing game coming out of the backfield. Unfortunately, they were not used properly last season, and the offensive line showed very little help to develop running lanes. With the additions to the offensive line and Bill Lazor’s new playbook, the Bengals running game should be explosive in 2018.
We got to see a glimpse of some of the changes coming for the offense in the final two weeks of the 2017 regular season. Facing off against the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens, Lazor ran his offense mostly out of shotgun sets and in a fast attacking pace that allowed Andy Dalton to make plays without linemen in his face.
We also saw the best performances from the running backs in the final two weeks. Bernard put up 116 yards on the ground against the Lions while the Bengals running backs added another 106 yards through the air. Lining up in shotgun sets also benefited the backs as it gave them more opportunities running to the outside.
Cincinnati was one of the last teams in rushing attempts last year at 29. That number should significantly increase this season and given all of their running backs have the ability to be weapons in the passing game as well, it will help the entire offense. The team also drafted Miami running back Mark Walton and signed UDFA Quinton Flowers who is transitioning to running back. Both are significant threats in the open field to add even more depth to an already stacked group.