The Cincinnati Bengals have a lot of problems right now, with high-paid, underperforming chief executive officers among them.
Joe Mixon and Jonah Williams top the list.
Mixon, the star running back on a $48 million deal, was a liability in pass protection nearly every time on the field during Monday’s loss to the Browns.
Through eight games, he’s up to just 432 yards and two scores on a 3.3 average, that average puts him about 50th in the NFL along with the likes of Najee Harris.
We can point to offensive line struggles as part of the problem, undoubtedly. But it goes much further than that when he can’t create – whether the gaps are there or not.
Some advanced calculations provided by Joe Goodberry say it all:
Joe Mixon ranks 65th out of 67 backs with a 24.3 grade
He leads the league with 3 sacks allowed.
Joe Mixon’s elusive rating (makes defenders miss) is now down to 51st out of 54 backs.
His Yards After Contact average of 2.05 yards is now 53rd out of 54 backs.
— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) 2 November 2022
A star running back shouldn’t have to come off the field in key situations because he still can’t keep the quarterback clean in his sixth year as a pro. That’s likely going to mean the team takes a close look at his $12.85 million cap hit in 2023, which could be a tough sell with the fanbase given how much they love him.
And more worrisome may be Jonah Williams.
The 2019 No. 11 pick looked lost Monday night, once again getting whipped by high-quality rushers. PFF has him at eight bags allowed already through as many games — as many as they hit him with over all of last season with over 1,044 snaps.
The performance is particularly concerning because Williams appears to be regressing, not even staying flat despite the upgrades to the other four spots on the line. We can only blame playing next to a new rookie at guard for so long halfway through the season. He doesn’t lose and/or win often even when he has chip help.
The tackles have mostly been a disaster, as Week 8 illustrated well, via Willie Lutz:
PFF Pass Blocking Grades for #Bengals in the tape last night to #Brown:
Ted Karras – 83.4
Alex Cappa – 83.2
Cordell Volson – 68.8
La’el Collins – 46.1
Jonah Williams – 32.2
— Willie Lutz (@willie_lutz) 1 November 2022
But the Bengals have already picked up Williams’ fifth-year option ($12.6 million cap hit) for next season and will have to face the unpleasant prospect of extending him or trying to draft another tackle again.
At this point, you could call it a half-season test for both players where even a Super Bowl run again won’t change the uncertainty for either. Williams is going to be on the books next year anyway because his fifth year is fully guaranteed, but that doesn’t mean it has to be at left tackle. A sudden offensive tackle needs when the team actually needing to spend assets on things like cornerback is a big problem. And don’t underestimate the need at running back, considering the team apparently doesn’t trust rookie Chris Evans despite making one of the biggest plays Monday night.
As a sideline, veteran player Kevin Huber is in the same boat with a terrible season. At least Drue Chrisman could come up and take over the practice squad job at any time.
Things aren’t nearly as simple with Williams and Mixon, now or in the future. And it piles on top of other problems in a bad way considering in an ideal world, the two would be at least even pieces that don’t cause concern – instead, they’re trending in the wrong directions.