Nov 29, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) hands the ball off to running back Jeremy Hill (32) in the first half against the St. Louis Rams at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals need to establish the power run game, and with Tyler Eifert potentially missing time to nurse an injury, Sunday’s matchup in Cleveland presents a great opportunity to do just that.
Jeremy Hill‘s so-called “struggles” have been well-documented all season, especially by those who drafted him in the first round of their fantasy football leagues. According to many fantasy football players, Hill is a “bust” because he doesn’t produce for their team on a week-to-week basis.
While the second-year running back is having a down year, he’s certainly not a bust. Hill is still fairly productive, averaging 3.5 yards per carry with 490 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Since getting benched after losing two fumbles in the Bengals’ Week 2 victory over the Chargers, Hill hasn’t fumbled once.
Hill is coming off his best game of the 2015 season, in which he tallied 86 rushing yards on 16 carries (5.4 yards per carry) in the Bengals’ 31-7 victory over the Rams. While he didn’t score a touchdown, Jeremy Hill was incredibly efficient, stringing together several nice runs.
Hill’s 15-yard scamper against St. Louis was his longest run of the season–and while that is crazy to think about, it shows that Hill’s season-high numbers in the Rams game came from consistency rather than just from one long run.
With Tyler Eifert suffering a stinger against the Rams and possibly missing time, Cincinnati now has an opportunity to revert back to the power run game and help Jeremy Hill re-establish confidence. Ryan Hewitt will likely see an increased role as an H-back if Eifert ends up missing time, as he is the Bengals’ best lead blocker and second-best tight end on the roster.
Running in I-formation behind Ryan Hewitt on Sunday, Jeremy Hill really seemed to find his groove. All of his best runs came when Hewitt was paving the way on the ground, just like most of Hill’s best runs from the 2014 season came from plays involving the H-back.
Hue Jackson’s pass-happy offensive scheme has really benefitted Andy Dalton, but it has stunted Jeremy Hill’s progress. Hewitt and Tyler Kroft are good players, but they can’t fill the void left by Eifert in the passing game.
And if Hill can’t get going, his counterpart, Giovani Bernard, is just as capable of making big plays in the power run game.
Tyler Eifert is an important piece of the Bengals’ offense, so there’s really no reason to rush him back into action–especially given his injury history. And with Jeremy Hill ready to re-establish himself as one of the NFL’s premiere running backs, Sunday’s matchup with the Browns presents an opportunity for Hill to do just that.