Reason No. 9: Joe Mixon
First things first, we aren’t going down any rabbit holes here when it comes to Joe Mixon and his off field transgressions. This is a football article, so we are sticking with the football side.
On the football field Joe Mixon is really good and makes the Bengals offense exponentially better, more versatile, more dynamic, more explosive, etc., etc., etc. Mixon was the best all-around running back in this year’s draft and if not for the off-the-field stuff, Mixon would have been the first running back taken in this draft and likely would have been taken in the top five picks. At 6’1”, 220+ pounds, good hands and good route running skills, Mixon is a big, powerful, three down workhorse-type running back with change-of-pace back speed (4.43). In 2016, Mixon rushed for 1,274 yards on just 187 touches for a staggering 6.8 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns. Throw in his 37 receptions for 538 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns, and Mixon had 1,812 yards from scrimmage, 15 touchdowns and averaged 8.1 yards per touch. Just for good measure, he also had a 26 yard touchdown pass.
While many mainstream analysts and pessimistic Bengals fans will point out it won’t matter who is running the ball because the Bengals front five can’t open holes, I would disagree. First, unlike Jeremy Hill and his 3.8 yards per carry, Mixon is a patient runner, who will set up his blocks and allow lanes, especially cut back lanes, to open. In fact, many have compared his patient running style to that of Le’Veon Bell. Second, his ability to come out of the backfield and run routes (ala Bell), keeps defenses honest and short dump passes to Mixon can be used as an extension of the run game. With A.J. Green and John Ross on the outside pushing the safeties back, combined with Tyler Eifert down the middle, Mixon should find plenty of space on quick underneath routes, making this Bengals offense tough to defend.