In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected LSU quarterback, Joe Burrow. Enter Burrow, exit Andy Dalton. Burrow led a historic, and arguably, one of the best college football offenses in 2019. Cincinnati finished last season 2-14. The LSU Tigers had as many wins as the Bengals did all of last season, in the College Football Playoffs. Burrow was surrounded by elite-level talent. Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The list could go on and on. In Ohio, he will be playing with the likes of Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, John Ross III, Tee Higgins, and hopefully a healthy A.J. Green.
You could argue that Joe Mixon has as much talent as any back in the NFL right now. However, will he be utilized to the best of his abilities by Bengals head coach, Zac Taylor? He was wildly underutilized at the beginning of this past NFL season but was used more properly at the tail end of the year. Let's dive in and take a deeper look.
This past season Mixon finished as the RB13. According to PFF, the Bengals offensive line was ranked 30th in the league in 2019. That's not good, in case you didn't watch any of their games. Before the season even started they got the injury bug and lost their 11th overall pick, Jonah Williams, due to a torn labrum. They also signed guard Xavier Sua'Filo, who only allowed 1 sack in 2019, per PFF. They only drafted one offensive lineman in the 6th round, so they must feel comfortable where they are at when fully healthy.
First Eight Weeks
In Mixon's first eight games he was averaging 12 carries and a little under three targets per game. A fireable offense. Over the next eight games, he averaged 22 carries and still under three targets per game. He still wasn't utilized correctly. Mixon is one of the best pass-catching backs in the league, so let's pray that his coach gets him more involved in the passing game. Giovani Bernard is also averaging under three targets per game, so it isn't that he is losing a ton of work to him in the pass-catching department.
Over the first eight weeks of the season, he was the RB31 and averaging just 10 PPG. The final stretch of the season he was the RB8 and averaged 18 PPG. Imagine if he was seeing another 3-5 targets per game. Burrow knows a thing or two about passing to RBs as CEH had 55 receptions at LSU last season.
Mixon also had 24 broken tackles last season, which was the 9th best in the league. Just 7 broken tackles behind the league leader, Nick Chubb. Which was eight more than CMC, and ahead of Ezekiel Elliot, Dalvin Cook, Mark Ingram, Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders, and Devin Singletary.
He also had the seventh most yards after contact. Again, better than Barkley, Cook, CMC, as well as Kamara. His average rushing yards before contact? 1.8, which was 33rd in the league. With a healthy and improved offensive line, that number should be better this season.
Mixon is in a contract year, so giddy up. He will only be 24 years old heading into the season. He is younger than CMC, Nick Chubb, Alvin Kamara, Zeke, James Conner, and Dalvin Cook. Will Joe Mixon be utilized to the best of his abilities? We do not know that for sure. However, if he is used the way he was the last eight weeks of the season, the sky is the limit.
289 attempts 1285 yards 8 touchdowns
68 targets 55 receptions 511 yards 2 touchdowns
RB8 - 18.6 PPG
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