2.3 yards per carry
This is where we usually make the case for the Bengals to run the ball more and the offense was in a perfect position to lean on Joe Mixon against the Steelers. The backup quarterback was starting his first NFL game. It was a cool and wet afternoon.
While Pittsburgh’s defense ranked 26th in average yards per rush given up heading into the game, they ranked 17th in net yards per game. Also, they ranked ninth in QB pressures and pressure percentage. Their 78.4 QB rating was sixth-best in the NFL.
The best option to attack the Pittsburgh defense should have been running the ball. Yet, Joe Mixon only carried the ball eight times for 16 yards. Browning added three runs for nine yards. The offense averaged 2.3 yards per rush.
However, to justify continuously banging your head against a brick wall is a difficult argument to make. That is what it seemed like Joe Mixon did on Sunday. He ran the ball eight times for 16 yards. That is an average of 2.0 yards per carry.
Yet, with the second-string quarterback in the game against a good pass defense, the Bengals could not muster a semblance of a rushing attack, rendering the offense one-dimensional for nearly the entire game.
Another disappointing stat from the run game is zero. That is the number of carries that the young guys got. Chris Evans was inactive for the game. Rookie Chase Brown, who we loved coming out of college, was active but did not touch the ball.
The contrast between the balanced offense of the Steelers and the one-dimensional attack of the Bengals was stark. Pittsburgh had a 50-50 split. They rushed the ball 33 times, and Kenny Pickett had 33 pass attempts. Albeit, a couple of those rushes were kneel-downs at the end of the game.
An offense that is equal parts rushing and passing would be unheard of from the Bengals this season, even when the rushing attack is effective.
So whether it is the offensive line, play calling, Mixon’s running, or a combination of them all, Cincinnati’s lack of attempts, production, and getting other players involved is beyond disappointing.