In the offseason, the hype surrounding Jeremy Hill was alive and just about everywhere you looked. Many predicted him to among the best running backs in the NFL this season and assumed a trip to the Pro Bowl was a sure thing for the Bengals' second year back. After five weeks, that hype is starting to be silenced and Hill is far from producing at the level of a Pro Bowl running back, despite his five touchdowns in five weeks.
Despite his minimal production, the Bengals aren't worried. Hill remains the starter and Hue Jackson still believes Hill's time is coming.
"Jeremy hasn't had the success that he had a year ago, and I think that's what everybody's looking for," Bengals offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson said this week. "But Jeremy's playing well. Jeremy's still our starting tailback. Everybody has seen over the last couple of games that Gio has got more carries, more opportunities than Jeremy. Well, eventually that's going to flip. It's not going to stay the same and it's not going to keep happening like it's happening."
It's debatable as to whether Hill is actually playing well. Through five weeks, Giovani Bernard has 69 rushes compared to Hill's 58. Bernard also has 377 yards with an average of 5.5 yards per rush compared to Hill's 176 with a 3.0 average. Bernard has two rushes for more than 20 yards, while Hill has yet to break out for more than 11 yards at once.
ESPN's Coley Harvey reported Jackson saying, the numbers will come. "I'm not worried about where the numbers will be. They will be what they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there. People have to understand that."
Andrew Whitworth believes Hill's time is coming, too, as Local 12 reported. "I think it will come," Whitworth said. "Every year we hit that point. In our division and with our style of play, later in the year running the ball seems to be more successful because of the cold weather. So you keep the hammer down. We definitely want to be better, but the reality is we've played teams that don't give up rushing yards. It's just a reality of the game."
When the Bengals are 5-0, it's hard to complain about Hill not meeting expectations and the Bengals running backs know that. Bernard certainly isn't complaining about not being the starter or what Hill's numbers are.
"We're 5-0," Bernard said. "At the end of the day, it can't get any better than 5-0."
The Bengals have no plans of slowing down the running game, even with how well Andy Dalton and the passing game are doing.
"This is Year 2," Jackson said via ESPN, both of his second year as offensive coordinator and Hill's second year with in the NFL. "I never said it was going to look exactly the same as it did last year. But I know we have to run the ball, and we will continue to run the ball. We're not ever going to shy away from that. We can run the ball better. But how we run it, whether it's two backs, one back, six backs, I don't care, we'll find a way. You have to have enough attempts against really good football teams because if not, too many things can happen to your quarterback that are not fair and fun."