It’s hard to get noticed when you’re on a losing team in a poor market—especially when your losing team also has some of its biggest names on injured reserve. That’s the best explanation that Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon can come up with to explain why he didn’t make the Pro Bowl in his second season.
In fact, according to the team’s website, he is only a third alternate. The AFC running backs selected were the Pittsburgh Steelers’ James Conner, the Los Angeles Chargers’ Melvin Gordon, and the Denver Broncos’ Phillip Lindsay.
Mixon, who has missed two games this year, leads the AFC with 995 rushing yards, four more than Lindsay, almost 90 more than Conner, and close to 200 more than Gordon. Both Conner and Gordon, however, have also missed multiple games, and Lindsay was a backup at the start of the season.
All of the other running backs have also scored more. Mixon has nine total touchdowns, while Conner and Gordon have 13, and Lindsay has 10. He is averaging a healthy 4.8 yards per carry and has 1279 yards from scrimmage.
He “definitely” thought he would come a lot closer to making the Pro Bowl this year than as a third alternate, he told the team’s website. “Why not?”, he said, pointing out that he leads the AFC in rushing yards. “But I can’t do anything about it. It’s over with. They did their votes. I’ve got two games left to be the best Joe I can be”.
The best he can be right now is the starting running back of a team with a losing record in 2018, but he has higher ambitions going forward. “I know next year I’m going to be a way better me”, he said. “I’m looking forward to it, but at the same time I’ve got two more opportunities on the field and hopefully that will take care of itself”.
It’s hard to blame players for valuing individual accolades, especially those at certain positions and early on in their careers—and for those on losing teams. So I can understand Mixon’s reaction to missing the Pro Bowl, which many who fail to make it often don’t discuss publicly.
“It definitely was disappointing, but at the same time there are only two things you can do about it”, he told the team’s website about failing to receive the honor. “You can either go cry about it or you can go nut up and get ready for next year”.
So get ready for Mixon to ‘nut up’ in 2019, presumably with a Bengals offense that should include a full cast, among them quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green, both of whom are on injured reserve. Wide receivers Tyler Boyd and John Ross are dealing with injuries and we know about their tight end position, so Mixon is pretty much their offense right now.