After losing a fumble in the worst possible moment of the Bengals’ Wild Card loss, Jeremy Hill has a lot of questions to answer.
We ask ourselves, where is the Jeremy Hill from the 2014 season. It’s not so much that he has fallen off, it’s more of a lack of consistency. In 2014, the rookie was given the ball 20+ times on a frequent basis, and in all of those games he rushed for at least 100 yards.
There were three games where he didn’t have to share the ball because Giovani Bernard was inactive. In those three games he ran for 351 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. He also finished the season with games of 146, 147 and 100 rushing yards. Hill had one more attempts this season and 330 yards less then he had in his 2014 campaign. In 2014, the running back had eight rushes of 20+ yards versus just one this season. He also had three runs of 40+ yards in 2014 and didn’t manage a single run of that distance in 2015.
There are many possible reasons for his lack of production in 2015. It could be the blocking of the offensive line, scheme issues or something else. I’ve seen from the 2015 Bengals shifting their entire line, putting left tackles in wide receiver slots.
The Bengals shouldn’t be a smoke and mirrors type of team. They are better then that. So, if they just line up and play smash mouth football, or setup the run with an explosive passing game, Hill should be able to have success. The offensive weapons on the Bengals are plentiful. So if a player’s stats dip from year to year, because they have that much talent I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.
Jeremy Hill has a passion for the game; he runs hard and leaves it all on the field. With Hue Jackson gone maybe they’ll get back to a hard nose run game. Hill seems to blame himself for the questionable ending in the Wild Card playoff game. Expect him to come back with a chip on his shoulder, running as hard as he’s ever run before.
This year’s stats are an exception, not the rule. Without him rushing, keeping the defense honest, opening up the passing game, the Bengals may not have won 12 games. Without his 12 touchdowns, they might have missed the playoffs altogether.
One play can change every play after that, like a butterfly effect. The way his season ended and the pain he felt on the sidelines just shows how much he cares about his team, teammates and all of Bengaldom. Jeremy Hill, it’s not on you. Thunder will return in 2016.