Joe Mixon carries for a gain against the Patriots Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Photo by Michael Mitchell
By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
Should Cincinnati not win one of its final two games, the 2019 season will be historical. Only thing, it won’t be the type of history that’s desired. They will stand out as the worse team in franchise history. As of right this second, the 2002 Bengals finished 2-14 and are the worst. The ’19 Bengals are 1-13 with Miami and Cleveland left on the schedule.
There has been failure in every aspect. Defensively, offensively, special team wise, and coaching. Offensive weapons such as A.J Green, John Ross and Jonah Williams have not been available for any or most of the season. Teams have for the most part had their way with the Bengal defense. It’s had to look at any aspect that has stood out as a positive for a team that did not get its first win until four months into the season.
When a team MVP is chosen, it will be hard to argue that Joe Mixon is not that guy. No, overall Mixon has had his struggles at time this season, also. After one of many Bengals losses early in the season, the Bengal featured back came under fire for saying that if any Bengal fan thought they could do better they’re welcome to come try out for the team. An October 20 game against Jacksonville was Mixon’s worst. He was able to gain only two yards on 10 carries.
It’s long been part of NFL lore that the ability of a team to run opens up the passing game. It took four months, but the Bengal running game is the one part that is flourishing and keeping the Bengals in games.
Mixon has had back–to-back 100-yard games. This past weekend, the team was blasted by the controversial New England Patriots, 34-13. The former Oklahoma star had one of his best games of the season, as he rushed for 136 yards against a normally stingy Patriot defense. This came off a 146-yard performance against the Cleveland Browns.
In his second season last year, Mixon rushed for 1,168 yards. He accomplished the feat in only 14 games. He led the AFC in rushing. His explosive slashing style makes him potent. One can only wonder how productive Mixon could be if the Bengal offensive line were more consistent and, frankly, had better players. One has to wonder if the former Sooner will be here after the 2021 season.
No player on the Bengals seems to take losing harder or more personal than Mixon. For a player who only knew winning in college, the reality of constant losing has been all too real for him at the NFL level. If wins don’t start to mount for the Bengals in the next two seasons, Mixon may try to take his talents to another NFL team.
On the other hand if Bengal ownership wants to keep Mixon in stripes, it can always franchise tag him. Right now. he is under contract and performing well. Keeping the best Bengal weapon will require two things. A better offensive line and wins. Neither of which Cincinnati has been able to provide the last four seasons.