The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Detroit Lions Sunday 34-11, and rookie running back Chris Evans played a vital role in the victory alongside Joe Mixon out of the backfield with Samaje Perine out due to COVID-19 protocol. Evans proved why he should be the second-string back behind Mixon moving forward.
On the first drive, once the Bengals got inside Detroit territory on third down, they lined up Evans into the slot and matched him up with a linebacker (the mismatch they were trying to exploit).
Evans gave one nice jab move that he was going to slant inside, got the defender on his heels who budged, and he blew by him for a 24-yard touchdown reception for his first career touchdown in the NFL. His pass-catching ability and speed make him a serious threat for the Bengals’ offense, and they shouldn’t waste that ability having him on the bench.
Bengals should promote Chris Evans to backup running back
Evans only ended up with 18 rushing yards, but he only had four carries as most went to Mixon. He was the third leading receiver for the Bengals behind Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, which is certainly noteworthy.
The sixth-round draft pick hauled in three catches and went for 49 yards. That aspect of his game and the fact that he wears number 25 reminds you of what Giovani Bernard brought to the table all his years in Cincinnati.
Evans still doesn’t have Bernard’s pass-blocking ability, which will e something that needs to improve. Still, he can be a serious playmaking threat for the Bengals’ offense, especially when defenses won’t be scouting or zeroing in on him.
The Michigan product showed his capability in the preseason, which earned him the number three spot on the depth chart in the running back room after his consistent performance in preseason games and training camp.
Now that he is getting chances in real regular-season games, he is making the most of it and showing what he can do. Samaje Perine still may be a valuable player, especially on special teams, but if Evans continues to get his chance, he very well could take the RB2 spot from Perine.
Perine is too similar to Mixon in many ways. Yes, Mixon is a lot more flashy and dynamic, although they are the in-between-the-tackles type of running backs who hit wholes and don’t usually have the speed to go the distance.
Mixon’s longest touchdown this season was his 40 yarder on Sunday, but it was a receiving score, and he had plenty of open field led by great blocking by Chase.
Evans is different. He brings a different dynamic to the offense and is less in between the tackles but more around the outside, lining up in the slot or wide and making plays with his speed and shiftiness.
This is why rookie Chris Evans deserves to be behind Mixon on the Cincinnati depth chart.