Can Bengals get more from RB Joe Mixon in the passing game in 2022? – Cincinnati Bengals Blog

by Msnbctv news staff

CINCINNATI — Final season ought to have answered any questions on Joe Mixon’s potential to be one of many NFL’s greatest working backs.

His fifth season with the Cincinnati Bengals was his greatest thus far. Mixon was one of the vital productive gamers at this place, earned his first Professional Bowl choice and even threw a landing go within the Bengals’ first Tremendous Bowl look in 33 years.

But the lingering query about Mixon’s functionality as an all-purpose again nonetheless stays. Ever since he dazzled catching passes throughout his school days at Oklahoma, his standing as a receiver has been a scorching subject amongst followers and particularly fantasy soccer managers.

However the numbers from Mixon’s 2021 season and feedback from Bengals coach Zac Taylor recommend the query has already been answered.

“To make an announcement that we are able to get extra out of Joe [Mixon] within the passing sport, that is acquired to tug from someplace,” Taylor mentioned on Could 31 following an offseason exercise. “Then we’ll be speaking about why there wasn’t as a lot manufacturing from Ja’Marr [Chase] or Tee [Higgins].”

Taylor hints on the conundrum the Bengals fortunately put themselves in after they drafted the 2 extensive receivers in 2021 and 2020, respectively. Between them, veteran extensive receiver Tyler Boyd and recently-departed tight finish C.J. Uzomah, discovering the fitting stability for ball distribution was going to be difficult.

In 2021, Cincinnati aced it. Chase set the franchise report for receiving yards in a single season (1,455) and was named the Related Press NFL Rookie of the Yr. Higgins cleared the 1,000-yard mark, too. Uzomah posted a profession 12 months that earned him a three-year, $24 million contract from the New York Jets.

Mixon was extra productive than all of them.

He rushed for a career-high 1,205 yards, the third-highest within the NFL final season. Tack on his totals from the passing sport and Mixon completed the 12 months with 1,519 yards from scrimmage and 16 complete offensive touchdowns, placing him fourth amongst all NFL working backs in every respective class.

However the bulk of that harm was accomplished on the bottom. He ranked 18th amongst working backs in receiving yards and twenty fifth in complete targets.

Being on the sphere in additional passing conditions, particularly on third downs, may enhance Mixon’s potential goal share. However Mixon’s present utilization makes {that a} tough scenario.

Final season, Mixon was on the sphere for 64% of Cincinnati’s complete workforce snaps, which was the fourth-highest amongst all working backs, in keeping with NFL Subsequent Gen Stats. And the big majority of these snaps got here throughout a contemporary set of downs.

Mixon was on the sphere for 75% of the workforce’s first and second downs whereas Samaje Perine, the workforce’s second-string working again, had a 16% snap share in these circumstances. However on third downs of three or extra yards, these numbers flipped. Perine obtained 64% of the snaps whereas Mixon’s share dropped to 17%.

After the 2020 season, the teaching employees challenged Mixon to enhance in his go safety after the Bengals launched veteran Giovani Bernard. Regardless that Mixon made strides in that space, Perine successfully took over for Bernard in most passing conditions, together with 2-minute drills.

“If we’re going to take [Mixon] out on a down, I slightly take him out on third down so he’s good for first and second down, finally,” mentioned Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.

The present construction leaves Mixon off the sphere in some potential high-leverage conditions, akin to a key third-and-1 late in Tremendous Bowl LVI the place Perine was stopped for no achieve. Callahan appeared to recommend there was room for some flexibility in ’22 that permits for Mixon to see extra third-down snaps whereas balancing his general workload.

“You’re by no means going to have him take that many snaps, particularly if you wish to maintain him contemporary over the course of the season,” Callahan mentioned. “However on the finish of the day, I’d wish to see perhaps somewhat bit extra utilization for him on third down.”

Mixon’s ideas on the subject are unclear. He didn’t converse to reporters following Tremendous Bowl LVI and didn’t maintain any press conferences in the course of the workforce’s offseason exercises.

However Mixon’s physique of labor in the course of the first 5 years of his profession speaks volumes. Final 12 months’s numbers offered sturdy early returns on the four-year, $48 million contract extension he signed in 2020. And he’s match into an offense that might be poised for an enormous season in 2022.

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