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What's happened to Joe Mixon? There's no easy fix for Bengals

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon didn’t have much to say on Monday.

Frankly, none of the Bengals’ players did after team meetings following Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that dropped Cincinnati to 0-7. In fairness, when the issues contributing to the team’s worst start since 2008 have been consistent all season, there’s only so much that can be added to the conversation on a weekly basis.

The NFL’s worst rushing attack is one of the Bengals’ biggest problems. And it doesn’t get much worse than what happened on Sunday against Jacksonville.

Mixon, who declined to comment on Monday, had 10 carries for 2 yards -- an average of 0.2 yards per attempt. It came one week after a 10-yard performance in a loss to Baltimore. One year after Mixon was the AFC’s leading rusher, he’s rushed for less than 20 yards in four of his first seven games.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said any frustration Mixon feels after the rough start is understandable.

"He just wants to win," the first-year coach said on Monday. "It’s frustrating for any running back when we’re having the lack of success that we’re having right now."

While there’s plenty of blame to go around as the Bengals prepare for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams (4-3) in London, the numbers and comments from the coaches suggest it goes beyond just Mixon.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Bengals have been stuffed on 31.3 percent of their run attempts this season, which is easily the highest in the league. However, opposing teams haven’t stacked their defenses to stop Mixon. Cincinnati is tied for second in the NFL in most rush attempts against six defenders or less (54.7 percent).

Over the past couple of weeks, Taylor has lamented the Bengals' inability to win battles at the line of scrimmage. That sentiment was intensified after the Bengals finished with 33 rushing yards against the Jaguars.

"We get the pictures on the sidelines," Taylor said during his postgame news conference on Sunday. "They’re good runs, and we lose the point of attack right as the (running) back is hitting the line of scrimmage. There’s a big hole there, and at the last second, they’re beating us up front one-on-one."

Cincinnati’s offensive line has been the center of scrutiny since the rushing game struggled during the preseason. At the beginning of the season, four of the five spots were occupied by new starters. Right tackle Bobby Hart was the lone holdover from last year’s unit that averaged 137.8 yards per game.

"We don’t get paid for it to be close," said Hart, a former seventh-round pick who received a three-year contract this offseason. "We get paid for it to be good."

Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said after the coaching staff reviewed the tape from Sunday’s game, it seemed as if a different person was at fault for a missed assignment that led to an unproductive rush. It’s the same refrain that was issued by Taylor after Mixon had a combined 27 yards on 17 carries after the first two games of the season.

After those performances, Mixon called himself a "peon" and shouldered the majority of the blame. But that might not be entirely accurate.

Mixon deserves some of the fault for miscommunication issues and not taking full advantage of the available opportunities. But after his latest puzzling performance, it’s clear the Bengals have many bigger issues that must be addressed.

"There are a lot of things that got to be better for Joe to be productive," Callahan said. "It doesn’t fall on anyone at any particular position at this point."