A look inside Joe Mixon’s slow start this season
Joe Mixon hasn’t been able to produce nearly the same numbers he was putting up at this time last season. The decline in numbers has been troubling, but will it continue?
Through eight games last season, Joe Mixon was sitting at 583 rushing yards and five touchdowns. This season, Mixon only has 320 rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns. I still believe Mixon is a star running back for the Bengals and he could be a huge part of this team going forward.
The biggest reason for his unproductive season is misuse by the Bengals coaching staff. Watching him play has a whole different feel this season compared to last season. It feels like every Mixon running play is almost the exact same rushing play as the previous one. A majority of his carries are straight down the middle and he gets met with defensive linemen or linebackers as soon as he gets to the line of scrimmage. That is where blocking has slowed him down.
If you’ve watched Mixon run the ball this season, you know he hasn’t had much of a chance to break a big run. Offensive linemen for the Bengals have been unable to open up a hole for Mixon to run through.
In fairness, sometimes Mixon has made a mistake and didn’t get as many yards as he should have. Still, when you don’t have a hole to run through, you aren’t going to be able to get very far downfield. It doesn’t matter how good you are.
Zac Taylor needs to change up the game plan and get Mixon carries to the outside and keep the opposing defense guessing. Throwing in more play action plays and screens will keep the defense from committing to the run up the middle.
The blocking for Mixon is another reason Cincinnati should get him more involved in the passing game plan. With Ryan Finley set to become the new starting quarterback for the Bengals, Mixon would make a reliable short game target and safety valve for the rookie quarterback. Throw Mixon more screens and short routes.
If you watched him play at Oklahoma, you know he can run medium and long routes as well. More of that might jump start the offense. Mixon is covered by a strong safety or linebacker in most situations.
The Bengals run game has been a huge factor in the 0-8 start. Mixon is not the main problem with the run game. Taylor has a star running back in his backfield and needs to figure out how to get him better involved sooner rather than later.