In the summer of 2015, I made a bold prediction that Giovani Bernard would outperform Jeremy Hill in the upcoming season. At the time, many called me crazy. And why wouldn't they? Hill had a great rookie campaign and throughout the spring and summer of 2015, expectations surged that Hill would be one of the best running backs in the league. That didn't turn out to be the case, and this bold prediction proved to not be so bold at all.
Why this prediction was "bold"
Jeremy Hill led the NFL in rushing during the second half of the 2014 season, churning out 5.1 yards per carry, to Bernard’s pedestrian 3.4. Any suggestion that he would not only fail to be a "stud" workhorse in 2015, but not even be the top running back on his own team was quite farfetched.
Why this prediction was feasible
Compared to Hill, Bernard was a very good receiving back, and most fans often overlook these receiving yards when considering how productive a running back is. Bernard had twice as many receiving yards as Hill in 2014 and taking their total yards per game from 2014 and projecting it over 16 games, Bernard was barely behind Hill (1,235 vs 1,304).
Including receiving touchdowns, Bernard had seven total touchdowns in 2014 compared to nine for Hill, despite starting fewer games.
Marvin Lewis’ commitment to his players
Lewis seems to be loyal to his veterans, even to a fault, at times. When Hill began to emerge in 2015, the Bengals continued to give Bernard a decent share of the workload.
Final Grade? A-
|Games||Rushes||Yards||Yards per Carry||Rushing TD||Rec||Yards||Yards per Reception||Receiving TD||Total Yards|
Bernard finished the year with 1,202 total yards compared to only 873 for Hill. Bernard also cranked out a much better 4.7 yards per carry compared to Hill’s 3.6 effort. Hill also had more fumbles than Bernard, including his game-changing fumble in the playoffs. Bernard was also continually ousted by Hill for the starting role and given less snaps in the majority of the team's games. The only game where Benard actually started was against the 49ers, when Hill sat for the first quarter for disciplinary reasons after sleeping through a team meeting earlier in the week. The one area where Bernard did not outperform Hill was touchdowns, which is what keeps this from being an "A+" prediction.