The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t made the playoffs, or posted a non-losing record, for the past three years. Despite the new wallpaper, the start of their 2019 season looks to be more of the same, getting off to an 0-2 start. It turns out, it may not have just been Marvin Lewis’ coaching.
While the passing game has put up numbers under Andy Dalton, even with A.J. Green still sidelined from an offseason injury, the running game, specifically under 2018 AFC rushing leader Joe Mixon, has been virtually non-existent. The third-year back has been unable to get much of anything going in the first two games.
Though he has 17 rushing attempts on the season, including 11 on Sunday, he has amassed just 17 rushing yards. Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Benny Snell, Jr. has one carry on the season and has managed more than that, a 24-yard dash on third and short against the Seattle Seahawks.
“I take it personally on me”, Mixon told reporters this week after another poor showing. “These two performances I’ve been displaying have been terrible. You call me the peon right now. I’ve got to go home and do some re-evaluating, some looking at the man in the mirror, which is me, and got to step up, making something happen”.
There were those who believed, based purely on talent, that Mixon was the best running back to come out of the 2017 NFL Draft class, even though he would be the fourth running back taken, in the second round, after Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey in the top 10 and Dalvin Cook in the second round. He slipped, it was said, because of his off-field issues, which included punching a woman, on security cam, in a Subway restaurant.
He did look the part, on the field, in 2018. On 237 carries, he rushed for 1168 yards, which was more than anybody in the AFC, with eight rushing touchdowns. He added 43 receptions for 297 yards and another score, and did not put the ball on the ground over 280 touches. He only played in 14 games.
This year, his performance has been a far cry from that. “It’s not the team, it’s me, honestly”, he told reporters about the Bengals’ early struggles in 2019. “I’m not being accountable to my teammates and making the plays I need to make”, he added. “I ain’t done nothing that I’m supposed to be doing. I’m not putting my team in good position to win. I’ve got to step it up”.
Issues along the offensive line haven’t done him, or the offense, any favors. They have been down to their third option at left tackle, Andre Smith, who was a former starter at right tackle and was intended to be a backup this year.