Remember when the Bengals offensive staff was contemplating more of a one-back system? According to some reports on Thursday, it's apparently happening sooner, rather than later. The local media had a few minutes with second-year back Giovani Bernard and it sounds like Jeremy Hill will get the start on Sunday against the Browns.
Per Giovani Bernard: Jeremy Hill will start Sunday in Cleveland. Bernard seemed down about it, but said he'll play do what wants of him— Richard Skinner (@nkyskinner) December 11, 2014
At a certain point, the numbers speak for themselves, plus, Hill has been very good at getting better as game goes on.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) December 11, 2014
The first place to look with effectiveness is at the yards-per-carry statistic. Hill is averaging almost a full yard more per carry on the season over Bernard, with only ten more carries to his name. Hill seems to get positive yardage more consistently than Bernard, whose 2014 season could be labeled "feast or famine".
Even though Hill is starting, that doesn't necessarily mean that Bernard will be riding the bench for the majority of the game. Passing plays and spelling Hill could still get him a decent amount of touches. The Bengals' coaches undoubtedly love Bernard's big-play ability and shiftiness, but Hill seems to be the needed mold of "AFC North running back".
On this week's "Inside The Jungle" podcast, we discussed this issue and how Hue Jackson needs to be more creative with these two. Using Bernard as a slot receiver would be a start and most forget that Bernard returned kicks at a high level for the University of North Carolina. We're not expecting the latter to happen, though. Many have been harping about it for weeks, but getting both of these two on the field at the same time should present match-up problems for the opposing defense.
One other possibility and obvious hope of the Bengals is to have Hill exhaust a defense and bring in Bernard to potentially pop a huge play. However it plays out, expect to see a heavier dose of Hill this Sunday.