For the past two seasons. Joe Mixon has been one of the best running backs in the NFL, but despite his production he does not get the notoriety he deserves.
That ends in 2020.
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Experience: 4th Season
Mixon is entering the final season of his rookie deal. He will make $1,208,206 and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.
The Bengals selected Mixon in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. That season, he shared the backfield with Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, but in 2018, he took over as the feature back. That year, he captured the AFC rushing title with 1,168 yards on 237 carries.
The Bengals struggled to run the ball early in the 2019 season, as Mixon rushed for only 320 yards in the first eight games. That brought the Bengals to their bye week, and they realized that something had to change. They revamped their running game to tailor it to the strength of their offensive line.
The following week, Mixon ran for over 100 yards for the first time all season. In the second half of the season, he ran for 817 yards. Despite his slow start, he only rushed for 31 yards less than he had in 2018, when he led the AFC in rushing.
The Bengals established their running game in the 2nd half of 2019. They realized that running more man schemes, more pulling schemes, and particularly more toss plays led to more success for Mixon and the run game in general.
This set the tone for 2020.
Joe Mixon dribbled Josh Norman off the ground pic.twitter.com/ApL78hiXJh— CrockTIME (@eric_crocker) August 15, 2019
Outlook for 2020
Mixon has been an excellent teammate and leader for the Bengals over a very difficult stretch.
After the trials and tribulations of 2019, the Bengals’ run game has an identity. Not only that, but the offensive line will improve with the addition of free agent Xavier Su’a-Filo and Jonah Williams, who missed all of 2019 with a shoulder injury. Since a lot of the blocking scheme breakdowns stemmed from the left tackle position, the addition of Williams will be huge.
The Bengals will also benefit from the development of 2nd year offensive lineman Michael Jordan, Fred Johnson, and Isaiah Prince as well as 2nd year tight end Drew Sample.
Early in the season, the Bengals offense will look to lean on the run game to take pressure off of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. Being in a contract year, Mixon will be happy to take the load and build his resume.
As a result of all of these factors, Mixon will have a career year in 2020. With the increased national interest in the Bengals that comes with having the 1st overall pick under center, Mixon will finally get the notoriety he deserves.
Mixon will absolutely make the Bengals’ final roster in 2020. The more interesting question is about his future.
He is not under contract after the 2020 season. How much is he going to be looking for and what will the Bengals be willing to pay to keep him?
Roster Odds: 100%