It didn’t take long for Joe Mixon to establish himself as one of the best running backs to ever wear the uniform.
Mixon, in only his fifth season, on the strength of his 165-yard effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, charged into fifth place on the all-time list of Cincinnati Bengals running backs.
Mixon’s effort on Sunday gave him 4,283 yard on his career so far, and pushed him past Cedric Benson, who rolled up 4,176 yards from 2008 through 2011. Next up is Pete Johnson, who rushed for 5,421 yards over a seven-year career with the Bengals that spanned from 1977 to 1983.
If Mixon stays on his current pace of 70.2 yards per game, he should catch Johnson midway through next season. If he can keep up the frenetic pace he established in the last two games against the Raiders and Steelers, it will happen much sooner than that.
“He’s a big burst of energy for us as a team and as an offense,” said Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow. “He brings the energy every single day in practice. I think that’s just who he is, he’s an energy kind of guy.”
And that energy carries over to the rest of the team.
“There’s no question about that,” Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor said. “That’s something he and I have talked about for three years now. I feed off of that energy, too. . . . But you’re right — he’s a guy that this team feeds off of in all three phases.”
Corey Dillon heads an impressive list of running backs to come through the Queen City. Dillon, who later won a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots, rushed for 8,061 yards in his seven seasons with the Bengals, from 1997-2003.
James Brooks gained 6,447 yards from 1984, while Rudi Johnson accounted for 5,742 yards from 2001-2007.
At his current pace, Mixon could catch Johnson by the end of next season, with Brooks set to fall midway through the 2023 season. It would take Mixon just over three full seasons to catch Dillon, but he certainly seems up to the task.
And, as we’ve seen by now, as Mixon goes, so goes the rest of the team.
“I’m just happy for everybody reaping the benefits around here,” Mixon said. “It’s a new thing for Cincinnati. Well, it’s not a new thing, but at the same time, they haven’t had it as much. At least since I’ve been here. It’s a great feeling, but at the same time, we just have to keep building each and every week.”