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NFL Analyst says Joe Mixon is “not a good running back”

Yikes.

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Joe Mixon is always going to be criticized in this day and age. And it has more to do with how running backs are viewed than his individual play. The idea is that the value running backs provide on the field is, to a large degree, replaceable, so it is unwise to pay handsomely for them.

The Cincinnati Bengals handed Mixon a $48 million deal before the start of last season, which means he could end up being the highest-paid running back to win the Super Bowl.

That, of course, probably scares people like Michael Salfino, who writes for fivethirtyeight.com, the Wall Street Journal, and The Athletic. He argued that Samaje Perine (who, it should be said, holds a special place in my heart) has been as good or better than Mixon. To be kind, I will attribute his ridiculous take to fear.

Essentially, as you can see in the Twitter thread above, Salfino argues that, over the last two seasons, Mixon has averaged fewer yards per carry than other Bengals running backs. After receiving pushback from others, Salfino doubles, triples, and quadruples down by arguing that:

  • Perine’s average is not boosted by running on third and long
  • Mixon’s average on first and 10 is worse than the other Bengals running backs
  • Observations from actually watching the games should not be taken into consideration

Salfino, of course, didn’t stop there. He also insisted that variance is not a factor and that Pro Football Focus grades are subjective. Rather, the quality of Mixon’s play should solely be measured by how his yards per carry stack up with those of the other running backs on the team.

Now, where did this take come from? Perhaps the answer can be found in yet another tweet of his.

Salfino, like so many others, is judging players based on their projected contributions in fantasy football. He is unwilling to consider Mixon’s actual talent or contributions to winning. This is the natural result of the Bengals only having one primetime game all year and coming out of nowhere in the postseason.

It is unlikely that Salfino would feel the need to target a higher profile running back in the same way. As Joe Goodberry pointed out, based on Salfino’s logic, one would have to conclude that Derrick Henry is not a good back, something Salfino would never do.

But for people like Salfino, the Bengals are frustrating. They make all of the preseason projections—even when bolstered by fancy charts and graphs—look silly. They are a well-disciplined football team that seems to always rise to the moment. And that doesn’t add up to a lot of fantasy football points. It is for this reason that Joe Burrow was doubted up until the AFC Championship Game. And now it’s Mixon’s turn to hear some nonsense.

We discussed the disrespect directed at Mixon in our Super Bowl preview:

You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below:

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