Bengals face uncomfortable problems with Joe Mixon, Jonah Williams

The Cincinnati Bengals have many problems right now, with high-paid, underperforming notables chief among those.

Joe Mixon and Jonah Williams sit atop 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 putting him roughly 50th in the NFL alongside the likes of Najee Harris.

We can point to offensive line struggles as part of the problem, undoubtedly. But it goes much farther than that when he can’t create — whether the holes are there or not.

Some advanced metrics provided by Joe Goodberry say it all:

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A star running back shouldn’t need 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 probably going to mean the team turns a close eye to 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 concerning might be Jonah Williams.

The 11th pick in 2019 looked lost on Monday night, again getting whipped by quality edge rushers. PFF has him at eight sacks allowed already through as many games — as many as they hit him with over the entirety of last season with over 1,044 snaps.

The performance is especially concerning because Williams seems to be regressing, not even remaining 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’s losing and/or not picking up often even when he has chip help.

The tackles have largely been a disaster, something Week 8 illustrated well, via Willie Lutz:

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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 uncomfortable prospect of extending him or trying to draft another tackle again.

At this point, call it a half-season trial for both players in which even a Super Bowl run again won’t change the uncertainty for both. Williams is going to be on the books either way next year because his fifth year is fully guaranteed, but that doesn’t mean it has to happen at left tackle. A sudden offensive tackle need when the team really needs to be using assets at things like cornerback is a big problem. And don’t undersell the need at running back considering the team apparently doesn’t trust rookie Chris Evans despite his making one of the biggest plays of Monday night.

As a sidebar, veteran punter Kevin Huber is in this same boat with an awful season. Drue Chrisman, at least, could come up and take over the job from the practice squad at any point.

Things aren’t nearly as simple with Williams and Mixon, now or into the future. And it stacks atop other problems in a bad way considering in an ideal world, the two would be at least level pieces that don’t cause worry — instead they’re trending in the wrong directions entirely.

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Bengals vs. Browns takeaways and everything to know from Week 8

Story originally appeared on Bengals Wire