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Bengals RB Jeremy Hill confident opportunities will come

"It's coming," Hill said following Cincinnati's win over the Baltimore Ravens, via ESPN. "I talked to Hue after (the game) and he knows it's coming. We can feel it. There are certain plays, certain situations where we can feel it."

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Hill is confident things will get better.

And he should be. Hill was the league's top running back during the second half of the season last year, had scored touchdowns in eight of his previous 11 games and was riding a streak of 100-yard rushing milestones against teams in the AFC North. Simply put, Hill is a dominating force within Cincinnati's offense. If he's not contributing, things could be going wrong.

Yet, the early returns for Hill this year are "lacking". Despite scoring two touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson told reporters the following Wednesday that there were "some plays (Hill) left out there. He'd be the first to tell you that, so I'm not telling you something he doesn't know." Hill was benched against the San Diego Chargers for losing two fumbles; thankfully, neither turnover led to a score for the Chargers.

Then, against the Ravens defense, a unit traditionally difficult to beat on the ground, Hill only generated 21 yards on 12 carries (a 1.8 yard/rush average). In addition, Hill ran the ball five times after the first quarter and his longest run in the final three periods of Cincinnati's 28-24 win over the Ravens went for three yards.


Still, Hill isn't worried.

"It's coming," Hill said following Cincinnati's win over the Baltimore Ravens, via ESPN. "I talked to Hue after (the game) and he knows it's coming. We can feel it. There are certain plays, certain situations where we can feel it."

It just wasn't there on Sunday. Hill's longest run came with 10:11 remaining in the first quarter; a six-yarder where his production was primarily carried by momentum.

Hill Ravens 6 yards

Yet, it wasn't entirely Hill's fault.

Cincinnati had no answers for Baltimore's rush defense -- which held the Bengals to 86 yards rushing, their lowest total since Oct. 19, 2014 when they were held to only 32 yards against the Indianapolis Colts. In fact, Hue Jackson called nearly 40 passes compared to only 25 runs, aware of Baltimore's enhanced vulnerability in their secondary compared to their front-seven; Andy Dalton and A.J. Green generated career-high numbers in yards passing and receiveng respectively as a result.

Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams was a big reason for Cincinnati's futility on the ground. In addition to leading the Ravens with eight tackles, Pro Football Focus labeled Williams as one of their most productive defensive tackles against the run this season.

There were times when Williams was a one-man wrecking machine.

With 14:21 remaining in the third quarter, Williams disrupted Kevin Zeitler (to the point of being ineffective), who was pulling from right to left. As a result, the Bengals blocking scheme was disrupted and led to Williams dropping Hill for a one-yard loss.

Hill Ravens Zeitler

With 12:23 remaining in the third quarter, Williams casually deflected Russell Bodine to drop Hill for a four-yard loss.

Brandon Williams Ravens Bodine Hill

This went on all afternoon.

Thankfully, Hill carries a team-first persona."For me, we're 3-0. So that's the most important thing," Hill said via ESPN. "Like I say, there's going to be days when our passing game is going and there are days when the running game is going. On days when the running game is going, we've got to get it done. We've got to finish runs and score touchdowns. It's all stuff we're capable of doing."

But, as Sunday was a big day for the passing game, there will be big days ahead this season for the run game.

"There's going to be a day when the running game is going to pop," Hill said. "So we're going to keep pounding, keep grinding. We're not going to get in the tank and pass it every play. It'll be a day. We've just got to keep pounding and keep working."