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Mauled by the Bengals

One of the saddest things in the world is when something is wasted. Whether it is wasted time, wasted food, and in the NFL, wasted talent.

What's happening to Joe Mixon in Cincinnati is sad. I have no idea why the Bengals organization and coaching staff refuse to use Mixon to his full potential. Why would you continue to not have one of your best players on the field?

Over the last five weeks of the 2019 season, the Bengals started using Mixon the way a bell cow back should be used. The Bengals started feeding him with numerous carries and used him more in the passing game. During that span in 2019, Joe Mixon was the RB5! About damn time! During the off-season, the Bengals signed their ‘bell cow’ running back to a four-year 48 million contract. I was excited for what this year was going to bring for Mixon with a new contract, a new capable rookie quarterback in 1st overall pick Joe Burrow, and what I thought was an organization that had figured out how to use him properly. But alas, I was wrong! The Bengals continue to Bungal and bring in Giovani Benard on third downs and during the two minute drill in games again this year.

Well, Mixon can't catch. Gio is the better receiving back so they want him in.” - Bob

Well Bob, you are wrong!

Joe Mixon has always been a good pass catcher. In his last year of college with the Sooners in 2016, he finished third overall in receiving yards, only behind Curtis Samuel and I’Tavius Mathers (who?). That was better than names such as Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and even Christian McCaffrey. Before you think “Ya, but he probably had more volume than those guys so that's why he had more yards.” That wasn’t the case at all. His yards per reception was comparable to Cook and Barkley but still above the rest. Mixon also finished the year as the more efficient running back of these players on a per touch basis.

“Well, that was college. Gio has been better in the NFL.” - Bob

Well Bob, once again you are wrong!

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Since coming into the NFL, Joe Mixon has had better receiving stats then Giovani Bernard. Bernard has averaged more drops and a lower catch rate than Mixon. From 2017-2019 the two running backs have had the same amount of receptions (108) with Mixon yet again being more efficient with his opportunities. All of this is just the receiving difference between the two running backs. Mixon edges out Bernard in all workout metrics and elusiveness as well. In 2019, Joe Mixon showed just how elusive he can be. He finished the season #1 in evaded tackles, #4 in juke rate, and #2 in yards created out of all the running backs in the NFL!

“Well, the Bengals must trust Bernard's experience during the fourth quarter.” - Bob

Well Bob you might be right there but the Bengals are wrong to think so!

We are able to filter out the usage of both running backs using sharpfootballstats.com, and we can see that both Mixon and Bernard have an average first down rate of 32% in passing work during the fourth quarter of the 2019 season. 32% of the time they both produced a first down on a target. However, Mixon produced a first down at a higher rate of rushing work in the fourth quarter than Bernard.

Some may say that Mixon hasn’t been able to produce the numbers that he has been expected to. Therefore, not making him an elite asset like some people think. Part of that is correct - the part that he hasn’t been able to produce elite numbers. But some of that is not his fault and he has been having to run uphill with a metaphoric anchor. It is hard to produce elite numbers when your team doesn’t use you in the passing game and you have to run behind the 31st ranked offensive line. It is extremely difficult to rush the ball when your offensive line is outmatched and we saw that first hand during the week one Monday Night Football game this year when Saquon Barkley rushed fifteen times for a whopping six yards on the ground against a stout Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Six!! Even an elite talent like Barkley has difficulty producing yards and making plays when his offensive line is outmatched.

The question is, why does the Bengals organization seem to be determined to not have their best asset on the field when he is needed the most? In a game of inches, when the game is down to critical moments, you would think that the team would want to have the most efficient running back on the field.

Is it an issue of the team not liking Mixon? I doubt that considering they just gave him a four year multi-million dollar extension. So what could it be? The answer is simple. The Cincinnati Bengals are a poorly run organization and I for one am cutting ties with all of my Joe Mixon shares if I am a contender. I fully believe in the talent of Joe Mixon but if the Bunglas … err I mean the Bengals, continue to squander his talent, he won’t be scoring the fantasy points I am looking for in 2020.

Thank you for reading my article on the misuse of Joe Mixon. Agree or disagree? Please leave a comment or message me on Twitter @TheFFAviator

Editor: Joe Simonetti (@joesimonetti77)

Graphic work: Dan Made Graphics (@DanMadeGraphics)