Why The Former AFC Rushing Leader Is Bound For A Big Year Six With The Cincinnati Bengals

June 11, 2022

Joe Mixon finished top three in NFL in rushing yards last year with the Cincinnati Bengals and was one of only two players to have over 1,000 yards rushing after contact. The other one was Jonathan Taylor, who led the entire league in rushing.

Is Health Mixon’s Biggest Question Mark?

Mixon’s biggest question each year is how healthy he can be throughout the season. In the seasons, he’s been healthy, he has been highly effective, and he has been a 1,000-yard rusher each year he plays more than 13 games besides his rookie year, where he split carries with Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. His best statistical season was this past season, when he rushed for 1,205 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The 6th-year back led the AFC in rushing yards in 2018, and that was the first time a Cincinnati Bengals running back led the conference in that category since Rudi Johnson in 2005. Mixon now sits just 1,179 yards away from passing Johnson on the all-time Bengals rushing list and moving up to 3rd.

Let’s also not forget that Mixon rushed for over 1200 yards this year with one of the worst-ranked offensive lines in the league. Now you add guys like La’el Collins, who has been one of the most competent tackles over the last 3-4 seasons, Ted Karras, who has been in New England playing winning football and leading the way for a team who is exceptionally run-heavy, and then Alex Cappa who spent the last two seasons blocking for Tom Brady and Leonard Fournette.

If Joe can see similar touches to last year and appear in 14+ games, there’s no reason he shouldn’t exceed his career-high that he set this past year. Will he land 13 touchdowns again? That will be a lot harder to repeat because it is a significant number, but Cincinnati loves to run the football. Even when the run is struggling, Zac Taylor has stressed the importance of committing to the run and setting the tone with it. This is important because you don’t want the defense to get comfortable.

Why the Bengals RB is so effective

The thing that makes Joe Mixon such a dynamic back is that he isn’t one dimensional, he doesn’t have crazy 2nd level speed once he breaks away, but he still often makes huge plays and runs due to his ability to read a defense and read defenders next step or move.

He is a shifty back with plenty of size that makes him hard to wrap up and tackle. Which is the main reason he rushed for so many yards after contact. He is excellent at fighting for the extra 2-3 yards each rush, even when a play looks dead at the line of scrimmage, and that impact can be crucial as a game develops.

The 2017 NFL draft was loaded with talent, and Mixon slipped to the second round but out of the draft as being one of the most productive players. He sits behind just Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, and Dalvin Cook for total yards out of that draft class, and there are some powerhouse names to compete with.

Joe Mixon remains just 25-years-old, which is extremely significant because if history continues to repeat itself, Running Backs usually don’t have longevity within their careers. Usually, once you hit that 30-year-old mark, teams will start the process of moving on.

The market for running backs has drastically decreased due to some people’s idea that it is a replaceable position, and that may be true, but the Bengals don’t get to the Super Bowl if Joe Mixon wasn’t in the backfield last year.

He was easily one of the most impactful players Cincinnati had that produced consistently and had countless big-time uns that sealed games and put the team in a great position to win the game. The fact of the matter is if Joe Mixon can be on the field, and see a similar snap usage rate we could be in store for a career season from the 6th-year running back in 2022.