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Would You Rather: Bernard or Hill be the featured running back

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The shifty Giovani Bernard who can catch and run, or the big pounding stylings of Jeremy Hill? Which would you rather see get the workload in 2016?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In our series investigating "would you rather" questions, we look today at the running back position and ask, Would you rather see Giovani Bernard or Jeremy Hill get the bulk of the work at the running back position this year?

This question becomes rather relevant when you figure the Bengals are possibly working on an extension for Giovani Bernard and the team history shows when the Bengals have two good players at the same position, only one of them will be retained (lose Michael Johnson, keep Carlos Dunlap; lose Jonathan Joseph, keep Leon Hall; lose Reggie Nelson, keep George Iloka; keep A.J. Green, lose Marvin Jones).

A would you rather question poses two options that are usually both good, or both bad, and you have to decide which one you would prefer. For example, would you rather receive $5,000 today or $1 for the next 10,000 days? Would you rather spend one game rooting for the Steelers, or suffer a week of diarrhea? Would you rather the Bengals win the Super Bowl but miss watching it because you are in jail, or have the Bengals lose the Super Bowl but be at the stadium to personally watch it?

One thing all of these questions have in common is that there is no middle ground. You can’t opt out and choose "both" or "neither". Instead, you have to pick one of the two. For their careers, both Bernard and Hill average about 14 to 15 touches per game. So the likelihood is, the Bengals will maintain some sort of balance for the 2016 season, but our question isn’t if you want a 50/50 split in the backfield.

Giovani Bernard

Bernard is perhaps the more complete running back of the two, who is just as capable on passing downs as he is when running the ball. He is elusive in the open field, able to make would-be tacklers miss. Last year he averaged 4.7 yards per carry, which is about 25% better than Hill achieved, in the same offense and behind the same offensive line. He has averaged about 50 catches per season, and has never averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in any season.

Bernard can play on all three downs, and doesn’t drop the ball like a hot potato. He was much more productive than Hill in 2015 and clearly is the easy choice as the one who should be getting the bulk of the work in 2016.

Year G Att Yds Ru TD YPA Rec Yds Rec TD Total Yds / G Fmb
2013 16 170 695 5 4.1 56 514 3 76 2
2014 13 168 680 5 4.0 43 349 2 79 0
2015 16 154 730 2 4.7 49 472 0 75 1
Career 45 492 2105 12 4.3 148 1335 5 76 3


Jeremy Hill

If Bernard is the sports car, Hill is the semi-truck. His game is power, bulldozing his way to 20 rushing touchdowns in his first two seasons in the NFL. But not only is Hill a typical power back, able to get yards after first contact, but he has some ability to make people miss as well. In his rookie year he led the entire NFL in rushing after Week 8, running through holes that did not exist and forcing his way to an impressive 5.1 yards per carry.

That ability is still in there somewhere, and if it can be brought to the surface again, Hill is the easy choice as the running back who should be getting the bulk of the work in 2016.

Year G Att Yds TD Y/A Rec Yds TD Total Yds / G Fmb
2014 16 222 1124 9 5.1 27 215 0 84 5
2015 16 223 794 11 3.6 15 79 1 55 3
Career 32 445 1918 20 4.3 42 294 1 69 8