Last year, Jeremy Hill was the talk of the Cincinnati Bengals universe. He was the new kid on the block and determined to show the NFL that he was a force to be reckoned with. The Bengals rookie turned in outstanding numbers that rivaled those of former Bengals running backs. Hill took the No. 1 position from Giovani Bernard and never looked back. He compiled close to 150 yards in at least four games. But this year something seems different. Is there something wrong with Jeremy Hill?
But what’s wrong this year? Why has Hill been relegated to spotty carries and limited duty? Marvin Lewis benched him, in Week 2, after a multiple fumble game against the Bolts. Hill fumbled twice and he Chargers recovered both. This has led many to believe that Hill is a fumbler and will lose the ball if he’s pounded hard enough.
The numbers tell part of the story. In that brilliant rookie season, Hill fumbled the ball five times in the games he started. When the numbers are extended to a full season, he would have logged 10 balls on the ground and four fumbles lost. Hill managed those stats in five games. To put the math into perspective, according to Sporting Charts, Seattle running back Fred Jackson fumbled the ball five times all season. Jackson was the closest to Hill with one fumble lost.
With the Bengals’ excellent line and offensive weapons all around, it was a sure bet that Jeremy Hill would be putting up huge numbers in his sophomore year. But that hasn’t been the case. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson noticed the drop-off and talked to his second-year player via The Cincinnati Enquirer.
“He still doesn’t play like I want him to play yet, I’ll be the first to tell you guys that,” Jackson said. “I’m not going to run from that, he can’t run from it either. I mean, there’s another level for him and he’ll get there and I believe that with my whole heart.”
Not only has Hue Jackson seen Hill’s potential fall short, Bengals fans are underwhelmed too. Jeremy’s numbers for the year are not close to bringing him the success he flashed last season.
The Bengals ran Hill from a staggered I-formation, last year. Powerful fullback Ryan Hewitt has been playing more as a tight end. That may be causing some of the yardage issues also. Hewitt was able to blow open huge holes for Jeremy to gobble up the yards.
The Bengals have a bye in Week 7. Their first three games back are the Steelers, Browns and Texans. The Steelers are looking solid against the run. They’re only giving up a tad over 93 YPG. Houston is respectable, but Cleveland is handing over a whopping 149 yards per game. That should help Hill get over the slump.
“Whatever it is, it is, so I’m not going to run from that. He scored a touchdown (against Buffalo), he had some good strong runs but I know the player he can be so I’m going to keep pushing him to get there. I mean, we need him. He’s going to be a huge part down the stretch run once we get back here (after the bye).”
[Feature Photo by Tom Sczcerbowski / Getty Images]