Even with a ton of justified excitement about top overall draft pick Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon is the best man to carry the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense in 2020.
When Bengals fans list reasons for optimism about the 2020 offense, the conversation centers around the many shiny new pieces at Zac Taylor’s disposal. Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins fit the bill. Even veteran wide receiver A.J. Green is a new toy as far as the Taylor era is concerned. However, no one should forget about Cincinnati’s most reliable tool in the toolbox, running back Joe Mixon.
There are legitimate questions about many of Cincinnati’s offensive pieces. Burrow and Higgins are rookies. Burrow in particular will be productive due to the simple fact he isn’t competing for playing time.
He and Higgins each have the skills to have long careers in stripes. Still, banking on rookies is always a crapshoot, especially after this year’s odd offseason. Not to mention, last year’s first-round pick, Jonah Williams, will be protecting Burrow’s blindside. Williams was injured all of last year. All three players have generated positive reviews in camp, but there will be a strong sense of unknown until they get some real games under their belt.
Then, you have A.J. Green and John Ross. Green is a seven-time Pro Bowler, but the now 32-year old hasn’t played since Week 13 of 2018. As much as fans want it, him being anywhere near the player he once was would be a pleasant surprise.
The speed of Ross still captures the imagination of Bengals nation, but he has just 49 catches in three seasons and has missed eight or more games in two of those three seasons.
Joe Mixon is the most reliable weapon for Burrow
The big takeaway is that much of Burrow’s supporting cast are fellow rookies or injury-prone. Enter Joe Mixon. He enters is fourth-year coming off consecutive seasons of over 1100 rushing yards and five or more rushing touchdowns.
Mixon doesn’t grab a lot of headlines, but he is a stud that has drawn high praise from the likes of Bill Belichick and Maurice Jones-Drew. There’s evidence he’s a catalyst for victory, as he averaged over 22 carries per game in Cincinnati’s two wins last year.
Who knows? Maybe Green, Ross, and the rookies stay healthy and dominate right away. However, Mixon is by far the most known commodity in terms of production on this offense. Whether it is a rookie or ten-year veteran, every NFL quarterback looks fantastic when they are handing off to a productive bell-cow running back often. Burrow will have to carry the franchise eventually, but the other Joe is the best bet to do the heavy lifting in 2020.