The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the game's underrated running backs in Joe Mixon who is coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and is seventh in the league in rushing yards over the last two years. Despite the high dosage of rushing yards, Mixon has just 13 touchdowns during that stretch. Mixon is going to be the No. 1 running back in Cincinnati, but the Bengals have an underrated commodity in Giovani Bernard -- one of the better pass-catching backs in the league. The Cincinnati Enquirer's Tyler Dragon forecasted a much larger role for Bernard in the passing game during an appearance on CBS Sports HQ Thursday.
"This is my bold prediction. Giovanni Bernard is going to take a lot of those receptions from Joe Mixon," Dragon said. "He is going to be involved in the pass game, especially in those third-down situations. They view Joe Mixon as an every down running back, but he is going to get the lion's share of the carries in the backfield. And then when you have those third-and-longs and those passing situations, I expect Giovanni Bernard to be on the field."
Taking away the third-down and pass-catching situations from Mixon will eliminate potential scoring opportunities and an opportunity to rack up the reception numbers in 2020. Mixon has 78 receptions over the last two years, which is just 20th in the NFL over that span. His 583 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns are just 22nd and 17th in the league respectively.
The Bengals received 65 receptions from Bernard over that same span, even though he averaged 6.95 yards per catch compared to Mixon's 7.47. Based on the Bengals' willingness to throw the ball to their running backs last season, both Bernard and Mixon each should receive a fair target share out of the backfield.
If Cincinnati is going to use Bernard as a third-down back and Mixon as a runner, the Bengals are going to have a two-back system in 2020 -- something they significantly lacked the previous two seasons. Outside of Mixon, no Bengals running back had over 211 yards rushing in that span.
Getting Bernard involved more in the running back rotation will go a long way towards the Bengals having a more balanced offense this year.