Cincinnati Bengals: Rediscover The Running Game

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Jan 3, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) carries the ball for a touchdown in the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The bengals won 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) carries the ball for a touchdown in the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The bengals won 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Bengals running game was absent, in 2015.  Can Ken Zampese turn that detail around?

If you’re a Bengals fanatic, you probably noticed something about the 2015 season. The production from the running backs was down. Though there were different factors that contributed to the lull in numbers, Bengals faithful and analysts witnessed the swing in power. If the Bengals are to continue their winning ways in the tough AFC North, they’ll have to rediscover the ground game.

Mike Brown and the rest of the Bengals brass truly understand the importance of the running game. As of Tuesday, they began early negotiations with Giovani Bernard. The multifaceted back is set to become a free agent, in 2017. There’s no doubt Cincinnati will do everything possible, to keep him in Orange and Black.

Bernard was a key cog in the Bengals offense and sparked the team’s dynamic play. As a change-of-pace back, he’s invaluable coming out of the backfield and in space. He finished the 2015 campaign with 1,202 total yards and two touchdowns. Losing Bernard would be a serious blow to the ground game.

Jeremy Hill is the only Bengals back signed for the 2017 season. It may be time to get over “the fumble” and remember what he’s capable of doing. Hill was dynamic, in his rookie season of 2014. Per The Cincinnati Enquirer, Hill has embraced the mishap and vowed to do better.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

"“There is no running from it. I embrace it. I embrace the challenge. I embrace the doubters, the negative, all that stuff. It’s great. It’s part of football. The great competitors, the great athletes all embrace it. I see myself as no different. I’m going to continue to embrace it every day, face it every day and wait for my opportunity to overcome that.”"

Hill’s 1,124 yards and threat to become the 2014 Rookie of the Year was no fluke. By the time he’s back in action, the sophomore jinx should be a thing of the past. If the Bengals decide to let him walk after the season, he’ll need great numbers to woo any courters. Granted, he didn’t have the flash of his rookie year, but he was adequately productive when called upon and used the right way.

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The jury is still out on Hill. Bengals faithful nearly had strokes, when his miscue was labeled a fumble. But his downhill running style can easily be repaired. The Bengals brain trust will ultimately get things under control. New O-coordinator Ken Zampese will surely have a solution, to get Hill pounding again.

It’s rough out there, in those AFC North streets. Having a nice running back tandem will go a long way towards helping the Bengals repeat as champions.

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