Cincinnati Bengals fans are frustrated and they have every right to be. What started as a promising year filled with Super Bowl aspirations has turned into a massive disappointment, as the team is 5-6 and without their starting quarterback for the rest of the season. It's been a lost season, or at least it feels as though it'll end up as a lost season.
A major frustration that has lingered throughout the season is the lack of run game. The Bengals knew their run game needed to be addressed in the offseason, as Joe Mixon had a down year in 2022 but they opted not to take it as seriously as they should have and they're paying the price for that now.
Mixon took a pay cut to stay with the team but it's clear that Cincinnati should have moved on from him. He's 27 years old and has been quite the rollercoaster this season. The Bengals then needed to properly fill the RB2 spot and after losing Samaje Perine, they felt that Trayveon Williams was the best option.
The draft felt like a place the Bengals could address their running back spot but they waited until the fifth round to do so and that player has barely been on the field this year. It's been a mess, to say the least.
Bengals run game doesn't appear to be improving
In the loss to the Steelers, the Bengals ran the ball just 11 times for 25 yards. Twenty-five measly yards was all the team could manage against the Steelers' run defense that was ranked in the bottom half of the league. The Bengals had their backup quarterback starting and that's when the run game needs to step up the most but Jake Browning didn't get anything from his run game.
This offseason there will need to be serious changes made at running back. There's a potential out on Mixon's contract following this season and you'd have to think that the Bengals would move on from their long-time running back.
The Bengals will need to find a serviceable RB2 this offseason as well because it's obvious that losing Samaje Perine has impacted their run game massively. He was a huge piece of the Bengals run game when he was in Cincinnati and could step in when Mixon had to miss time.
The NFL is a pass-happy league, sure, but offenses need to be able to run the ball effectively. That makes it easier for the offense to operate and mix things up. The Bengals are very one-dimensional right now and that should not be the case with a backup quarterback.
This needs to be fixed in the offseason.