Though the Bengals' new offensive scheme under Hue Jackson was productive, there were some aspects that induced cringes. Red zone and third down efficiency, as well multiple calls for read options/quarterback drew questions from the media and fans. Perhaps the most inexplicable aspect of the game plan was the sparse use of Jackson's newest toy: second round pick Jeremy Hill.
The rookie out of LSU had a solid preseason, averaging almost five yards per carry and nine yards per catch, but for some reason, he was hardly involved in Jackson's Baltimore plan. He carried the ball four times for 19 yards (a 4.8 yards per carry average that matched his from the preseason), two of which were for first downs.
Apparently, this is going to change, per Paul Dehner, Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer:
Jackson said he went up to Hill after the game to specifically tell him he will be playing more going forward. Only had 10 snaps.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) September 8, 2014
Fantasy footballers that played Hill in week one will have been disappointed, though that obviously takes a backseat to what he brings to the Bengals on game day. It was a curious game plan by Jackson to have Hill ride the pine for much of the game, especially when the Bengals were up 15-0 in the second half and needed to chew up clock.
Though Giovani Bernard had some nice runs early and helped out immensely in the passing game, the inability to get tough yards late continued to give the ball back to the Ravens and aid their comeback. Bernard finished the day with 14 carries for 49 yards and a 3.4 yards per carry average.
We'll see if Jackson is true to his word with Hill going forward. We're inclined to believe that he will be, given his desire to have balance and take heat off of Andy Dalton. With Tyler Eifert nursing an elbow injury and Marvin Jones rehabbing a broken bone in his foot, the running game will need to be relied upon going forward. There could be formations where Bernard is split out as a receiver and Hill as a deep back to get both on the field and exploit mismatches.