All signs in Cincinnati point to running back Joe Mixon continuing to establish himself as a top-tier running back in the 2019 season.
Still, with Zac Taylor taking over the coaching reins and establishing a more versatile attack, the often-overlooked Giovanni Bernard clearly still has a role within the Bengals offense and a vital one at that.
“I’ve always been the type of guy when my opportunity arises is to go out and play, play hard, play for your team,” Bernard said via the team website. “I think that’s the biggest thing. We have to play for each other. It’s not about the stats, it’s not about how many plays I get. I just want to go out there when my number is called and make the play.”
Bernard’s 2018 season was hardly one of highlights. He was limited to 12 games with an MCL injury and he tallied 56 carries for 211 yards with 35 receptions for 218 yards — all of those numbers career-lows.
With the ascent of Mixon, expecting Bernard to relive his first three seasons, in which he topped 1,000 scrimmage yards and 40 catches each year, is likely folly.
Still, Bernard is reportedly lining up all over the field as Taylor’s aiming for an unpredictable offense with myriad formations and personnel arrangements. So, Bernard’s reps should increase and it wouldn’t be stunning to see his numbers rebound from his 2018 lows.
“We’ve got a good backfield right now with Joe and Gio to start,” Taylor said. “It’s good to get them both out here and take the load off of each other and help the young guys come along. Happy with what I am seeing from both of those guys. They are dialed in and focused. We are in good shape with those guys.”
In his six seasons with the Bengals, Bernard has showcased his versatility and would seem an amiable fit for what Taylor’s striving for with his offense. Bernard’s comments suggest his attitude is right, as well.
History tells the tale of showcasing Bernard as a winning path for the Bengals. Currently, the franchise is mired in a streak of three straight losing seasons, and Bernard’s numbers having dipped as well. Bernard’s initial three seasons were more productive and winning years for the Queen City.
So, perhaps Bernard returning to a more prominent role will indeed aid in Cincy returning to prominence in the AFC North.
With training camp around the corner, Bernard is simply focused on picking up a new offense.
“Just getting accustomed to the new playbook and accustomed to the change,” he said. “Everybody is really trying to understand how coach Taylor wants this team to be [run]. I think everybody is really buying in.”
And buying into a bigger dose of Bernard in 2019 just might bestow upon the Bengals more success.