In the first half, it looked the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers were going to put on a very entertaining game, but unfortunately, the Bengals’ offense failed to hold up their end of the bargain as they fell 14-29 against the Steelers.
One of the biggest head scratchers following the game was the lack of second half touches for Joe Mixon. The rookie running back rushed for 48 yards in the first half including several drive-changing runs. He did this on only seven carries.
You would think based on that Mixon must have finished the game with a pretty good stat line, but Mixon finished with seven carries for 48 yards. Yes. Frustration is the correct reaction, and apparently Mixon shares our sentiment as well.
(1/2)"Bell gets the ball 35 times, I get it 7 in the 1st half & don't touch the ball again."- Joe Mixon— Elise Jesse (@Elise_JesseWLWT) October 23, 2017
(2/2) "Jeremy got 1 touch in the 2nd, it's frustrating to us running backs... if it worked in the first half why not in the second?"-Mixon— Elise Jesse (@Elise_JesseWLWT) October 23, 2017
Mixon’s frustration is very understandable. It was clear the Bengals didn’t have anything going in the second half offensively, and Mixon not getting a carry was a huge part.
To make matters worse, the Bengals are trying to keep this charade of Jeremy Hill being a productive member of this offense going. He finished the game with four carries for seven yards, but he got a carry in the second half.
It was also clearly frustrating for Mixon to watch the Steelers feed Le’Veon Bell all game long. The Steelers didn’t have too much success through the air in the second half, but because they kept pounding the ball with Bell they chewed the clock down and slowed down the Bengals’ pass rush.
Meanwhile, the Bengals put the game on Andy Dalton’s shoulders against the best passing defense in the NFL. They also let the Steelers’ pass rush pin their ears back and routinely put pressure on Dalton. The first half started with the Bengals down only 14-20, but they never saw the need to go back to the Mixon well that was clearly effective early on.
Guys, I think Mixon is right on this point. Seems like the running backs are close to being as frustrated as AJ Green was in week 2.— Elise Jesse (@Elise_JesseWLWT) October 23, 2017
When A.J. Green voiced his frustrations after Week 2 changes were made. Obviously the Bengals can’t move on from Bill Lazor, but we should see a more conscious effort to get the run game going next week.
Other players like Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick have also been critical of the team earlier this season. Kirkpatrick put it simply following the loss to the Texans by saying “we suck.” Jones also called out the offense following Week 2 by insisting the offense let down the rest of the team.
The Bengals need to stop shooting themselves in the foot. Many of these losses can be traced back to coaching decisions. 2-4 is not how this season should have started. It took them two weeks to actually even start putting in younger players, and we are still stuck watching the Bengals over think this.
The Bengals will be returning to Cincinnati next week to host the Colts. Indianapolis has possibly the worst defense in the league this year, so Mixon and company should easily be allowed to get rolling against them.
Hopefully, some of that will spill over to the Bengals three-game road trip following that game. The Bengals will face the Jaguars, Titans, Broncos and return home against the Browns, so Cincinnati could easily go 4-1 or 3-2 over that stretch.
At least Mixon had quite the performance in limited time. It should have been more, and according to Pro Football Focus, Mixon had the best Breakaway Percent in Week 7 with 91.3 percent of his yards coming on runs of more than 15 yards. This should be a good sign of things to come from Mixon in the future.
Hopefully, the Bengals decide to give him more chances going forward.