Jeremy Hill’s Star Continuing to Shine Bright


Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back

Jeremy Hill

(32) runs the ball away from Denver Broncos defensive tackle

Terrance Knighton

(98) during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Hill‘s performance last night versus the Denver Broncos was a special one as he led the Bengals’ offense en route to a rare prime time victory.  Behind Hill’s 147 yards, one touchdown performance, the Bengals secured a playoff spot for the fourth season in a row and will now play the Steelers with an opportunity to take home their second straight AFC North title.

If the Bengals are to win this Sunday night, they could possibly score the AFC’s number two seed and a first-round playoff bye if Denver manages to lose to the lowly Raiders; a long shot to say the least.  The win would secure the Bengals at least one home playoff game and the team’s second straight prime time win; a big accomplishment considering their struggles when playing these big games.  Needless to say, the upcoming game has much meaning.

When the Bengals square off with the Steelers on Sunday night, Jeremy Hill will no doubt play a huge role in the game regardless of the outcome.  His performances thus far as the team’s starting running back says that the offense must now revolve around Hill’s prowess for finding yards regardless of the defense in front of him.  Through five starts this year (JAX, CLE, @NO, @CLE, and DEN), Hill has accumulated 656 yards (131.2 yards/game) and five touchdowns.  A week ago, I did a comparison of Hill against leading NFL rusher DeMarco Murray.  After last night’s game, the slight advantage was only widened between Hill and Murray.  Here is an updated look at that comparison.

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Meanwhile, Jeremy Hill’s standing amongst NFL running backs only improved after yesterday’s performance.

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Jeremy Hill’s rookie season has surpassed largely any expectation at this point.  He was originally drafted as simply a more dynamic replacement for veteran Benjarvus Green-Ellis.  Hill was tasked with getting those tough yards while spelling Giovani Bernard at times.  Since, he has managed to become a viable Rookie of the Year candidate and has taken ahold of the Bengals’ running game.  Rarely will you see an offense revolve around a rookie, but this seems to be the case for the Bengals and Hill.

Yet, Jeremy Hill’s impact on this team doesn’t stop there.  At this point, there seems to be mounting evidence that Hill is assuming a leadership role.  This is apparent from a comment he made following the big win.  Here’s the question and answer following yesterday’s game.

"You showed a lot of emotion at times tonight. Was this game emotional for you?“Definitely. Especially with the way we’ve been performing in prime-time situations, I just knew that somebody had to ignite the team, somebody had to inspire everyone else. If that had to be me, then so be it. I’m just a guy who plays with a lot of emotion. Guys tapped me early on in the game and said, ‘We need you.’ I tried to respond and help out the team.”"

This while Hill is humble enough to recognize that these accomplishments are not just his own.

"Did you know when you went over 1000 yards?“No, I did not know. That’s a great thing too. The offensive line has done a great job blocking. You can go back and watch the film, and it’s just big holes, big creases and they’re getting a lot of push.”"

He certainly seemed to accomplish his goal of helping inspire the team yesterday.  His 85-yard touchdown run followed Aqib Talib‘s pick six on an errant Andy Dalton throw.  This while Hill continued to gain tough yards throughout the night while shedding numerous tacklers.  His superior confidence and mettle seems to have permeated throughout the teams.  Here’s a quote from offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth from last night.

"In the past, you guys haven’t responded to adversity like you did tonight. What was different tonight?“We just have a new attitude. The running game has really sparked kind of a feistiness, a will to make something happen for us. At times, we haven’t had that, for whatever reason. When you start to be able to run the football like this, you open up a lot of other things. If we continue to run it like this, teams are going to have to try and take that away eventually. Then we’ll get matchups on the edge (with receivers).”"

That quote is especially meaningful when you consider that it comes from one of the team’s captains and longest standing veterans.

Hill’s impact on the Bengals has been substantial and is only growing with each game.  His production has been key in turning this team’s attitude around and its confidence when faced with adversity.  As time goes on, it’s likely that Whitworth is right.  Hill’s ability will eventually be respected by opposing teams, and when that happens, the rest of the team will benefit from it.  Andy Dalton will have a decreased pressure and focus on him.  Receivers will have more space and favorable matchups to work with, and the defense will benefit from the increased rest.

Jeremy Hill is becoming one of the most dangerous weapons in the league.  And as he continues to shine bright, the Bengals’ glare may become too much for their opposition to handle.