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Joe Mixon on slow start: 'It's not the team, it's me'

Frustration has set in quickly in Cincinnati. The Bengals are 0-2 after dropping a tight season opener in Seattle and getting blown out at home by the 49ers.

Perhaps most surprising is the production of running back Joe Mixon, or lack thereof. The fantasy darling has rushed for just 27 yards on 1.6 yards per carry. Not a typo, folks.

"I take it personally on me," Mixon said Wednesday, per the Dayton Daily News. "These two performances I've been displaying have been terrible. You call me the peon right now. I've got to go home and do some re-evaluating, some looking at the man in the mirror, which is me, and got to step up, making something happen."

Just last year, Mixon finished fourth in the NFL in rushing (1,168 yards) in just 14 games and scored nine touchdowns while averaging more than 100 yards from scrimmage per contest. It made him a first-round pick in fantasy leagues across the country. Mixon, of course, is upset about how he's impacting his own team, which has leaned heavily on its passing attack through the first two weeks of the season.

The Bengals' offensive line hasn't helped Mixon, either. First-round pick Jonah Williams suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the offseason. Starting guard Clint Boling retired in training camp amid health concerns. Cordy Glenn, who moved from guard to tackle because of Williams' injury, has been out with a concussion. That left veteran tackle Andre Smith to switch to the blind side, where he'd started just once in his career heading into 2019. Smith was benched after a dismal showing against the 49ers.

Still, Mixon feels like he's pressing. In his quest to "be elite," the 23-year-old has been trying to break the big runs rather than taking what's available.

"It's not the team, it's me, honestly," he said. "I'm not being accountable to my teammates and making the plays I need to make. ... I ain't done nothing that I'm supposed to be doing. I'm not putting my team in good position to win. I've got to step it up."

The absence of receiver A.J. Green has allowed opposing defenses to key on Mixon even more so. Life might not get easier this weekend as the Bengals will face one of the league's top defenses in Buffalo. But first-year coach Zac Taylor likes how his team has responded to some early adversity. Perhaps it will be a turning point for both Mixon's and the team's performance.

"It's a great thing seeing guys pointing the finger at themselves as opposed to point it at their teammates," Taylor said. "We know, we've sat in there as a unit and as a team and hammered out all the reasons for our lack of success so far. It's very clear it's the entire unit, and 11 guys function together in conjunction with the coaches putting them in the right positions, so there's no need to point the finger at one guy. But, again, Joe's been a great locker room presence for us, he's accountable for the things he can control and that's what we're going to need to be successful."

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