The Free Agency period can be a time of surprises, with the Bengals. But, the fate of Jeremy Hill is written on the wall.
All good things must come to an end. As the saying goes, that means something had to be good, to begin with. In the case of the Bengals’ Jeremy Hill, the good seemed to come early in his tenure with the team. But, after nagging injuries and various setbacks, it looks like his time in stripes will be over.
To be honest, Hill became a household name and took Bengals Nation by storm. His downhill brand of running helped propel Cincinnati into the 2014 postseason. In fact, his style of running reminded fans of the Super Bowl years when there was a decent balance of run and pass. So, it was natural for thoughts of playoff wins to become the norm around the city. But, alas, it wasn’t to be. The light grew dim and Hill’s luster began to fade.
What was once a love affair with a rookie running back soon turned to sour grapes. Hill’s weight fluctuated as he was asked to become a different style of runner. Instead of the north and south bruiser, he was used more like Giovani Bernard. Ultimately, that was a bust. Then, there was his constant search for the big run. Looking for that huge gain from the line eventually wore thin with fans…and coaches. When Joe Mixon was brought into the picture, the writing was on the wall.
Hill remained steadfast that his days weren’t numbered and showed a confidence that was refreshing. Maybe the 2017 campaign would be his return to glory.
The writing on the wall
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When the Bengals began interviewing running backs before the 2017 season, it was a wrap. Hill’s days were numbered and he had to prove he was still the man for the task. Yet, there had to be a sliver of doubt in his mind. He had been promoted to the No. 1 position, but backs were still having talks with coaches.
In his rookie year, Hill pounded defenses for 1,124 yards and 5.1 yards per carry. Hill’s sophomore year wasn’t a bust, but it was eons away from what the Bengals and fans expected. For any other running back, it would have been fine.
The big blow
But, Hill’s 2015 numbers were a shadow of what he had shown he could produce. He was able to grind out 794 rushing yards (3.6 ypc) and pile up 11 TDs. Yet, he didn’t deliver the electricity the run game lacked.
History on the field doesn’t count. It’s all about the now. And Hill delivered a gut-punch to Cincinnati on January 9 of his sophomore year. Without bringing back the therapy sessions of many readers, “The Fumble” will forever be a part of Bengals lore.
Honestly, Hill will land on his feet, wherever he ends up. He’s a talented back with amazing power. But, for some reason, the Bengals weren’t able to tap into all of that potential (there’s that nasty word).
The Bengals’ running game will be in capable hands. Mixon and Bernard showed that they can carry the load and add an element of speed and shiftiness to the menu. Hill was asked often to be an east-west runner. That’s not his forte. As the 2017 season wore on, OC Bill Lazor was able to target the abilities of Gio and Joe for some surprising results. Behind a rag-tag offensive line, the Bengals proved they could move the ball on the ground.
Finally, in the event Mike Brown trumps Marvin Lewis and Hill keeps a spot on the roster, it won’t be so bad. He can teach Mixon what he needs to know. Gotta love Marv’s sarcasm.