What is wrong with the Bengals run game?

Cincinnati Bengals v New York Jets
Cincinnati Bengals v New York Jets / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

There was a lot to love in the Cincinnati Bengals' 27-12 win over the Jets. The defense was outstanding and fixed its two biggest problems (sacks and turnovers), we finally got to see the same Joe Burrow from last year that lead this team to a division title and AFC championship, and both Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins had productive games, combining for almost 200 yards by themselves.

However, one thing to not love is the rushing attack. To say that Joe Mixon has gotten off to a slow start would be an understatement. He played fairly well in the season opener against the Steelers, with almost 150 yards combined between rushing and receiving, but he has yet to get in the end zone and is averaging a measly 2.8 yards per attempt.

Breaking down Bengals run game issues

This last week was his worst yet, only managing 24 yards on 12 carries. It was rough to watch, especially after Samaje Perine came in and almost doubled the number of yards he had in one drive.

But why? What's up with this sudden struggle to get a solid running game going, especially with Mixon coming off his best season yet?

Well, a big culprit for this is the offensive line. So far, they've struggled more than last year's unit, as this past game against the Jets was the first time they were able to hold opponents to fewer than five sacks. Their struggles extend to the running plays as well, as they've hardly given Jodein a chance to get going.

Just look at this play from Week 1 as proof. T.J. Watt got in the backfield literally right as Mixon was handed the ball.

That's not to say that Mixon is completely blameless, after all, Perine was able to produce behind that same offensive line late in the game (against a more gassed Jets defense, but still). One thing I've noticed is that he seems to go down easier than he did last season. That's not to say he's gone down easy, you can definitely see him giving the effort to turn plays that would surely be losses into 1-3 yard gains.

However, it feels like he was bouncing off tacklers more last year, which was a big reason he was able to put up career highs in yards and touchdowns, on a much more impressive 4.1 yards per attempt.

One thing they could do to help give the run game a boost giving the other guys some reps. Mixon, naturally after coming off a Pro Bowl season, will still see most of the carries, but he and the rushing attack as a whole would benefit if Perine and Chris Evans, who has yet to record a carry this season, got more snaps. It could throw opposing defenses off guard as well as help Mixon avoid serious injury.

This is especially because he looked a little hobbled near the end of the Jets game, apparently thanks to soreness in his ankle. While he has been cleared to return for Thursday against the Dolphins, we don't want a major injury to a running back who's coming off a career year.

All-Time Leaders in Rushing Yards. dark. Next

Improving the run game could come in handy later in the season when Joe Burrow and the passing game will inevitably hit a few bumps in the road. I'd go as far as to say, developing a good, consistent rushing attack could be the difference between making it back to the post-season or enduring a disappointing year.