An injury-plagued season limited Joe Mixon to only six games last year. However, before the 2020 season, Mixon and the Bengals agreed to a four-year, $48 Million deal through 2024. This is a critical year for the starting running back because what Joe does this season will be essential to what Cincinnati does moving forward at the position. The Enquirer’s Charlie Goldsmith broke down the most important training camp players this week, and Joe Mixon made the list.
In 2019 Mixon rushed for over 1,100 yards while adding five touchdowns. However, in 2018, he had his best season so far in his young career, rushing for 1,168 yards and eight touchdowns and averaging 4.9 yards per carry. With Giovani Bernard out of the picture after winding up in Tampa Bay, Mixon will only see his workload increase.
Offensive Coordinator Brian Callahan said via Kevin Patra of NFL.com, “I don’t want Joe to leave the field, personally, and I think he’s up to that challenge.” With training camp in full gear and preseason on the horizon, Mixon has shown significant explosiveness, strength, and leadership signs.
With all the weapons on the offensive side of the ball, Mixon will have to share the wealth. Right now however, he has little competition in the backfield to steal touches away from him. It is safe to say Joe controls his own destiny. The only issue with Mixon being on the field every down is that you don’t want to see what happened to Todd Gurley with the Rams during their Super Bowl run happen to Mixon. 25 to 30 touches every single game. Come playoff time, Gurley was barely used due to injuries and lingering knee problems.
It is imperative to have a second option. Even if that is Samaje Perine, Trayveon Williams, or rookies Chris Evans and Pooka Williams, who both have been extremely impressive so far in camp. Pooka’s natural speed and sneaky athleticism have been raved about, which could land him a spot on the 53 man roster.
Heading into year five and being the most crucial season he’s entering so far, Joe Mixon is on a mission trying to rejuvenate himself as one of the NFL’s better running backs. There is no question the talent and capability are there. Staying healthy will be a focal point, and with a Frank Pollack widespread blocking scheme, it should only help Mixon as it’s meant to create more holes for running backs. Expect a big year from the motivated Joe Mixon.