CINCINNATI -- With the offseason now here for the Cincinnati Bengals, we're taking a daily look at a few statistics that either defined the past season or went overlooked during it.
Today, we highlight the following number:
It's safe to say Jeremy Hill did not have a very good 2015 season for the Bengals.
Even looking beyond his costly late-game fumble in the wild-card-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh, the second-year running back had trouble showcasing the full talents he put on display as a rookie. His very mild 3.6 yards-per-carry average paled in comparison to the 5.1 he had the season before. Yards simply weren't easy to come by for him.
Whereas Hill had 11 carries of 15 or more yards in 2014, he had only four such rushes in 2015. After an 85-yard touchdown run helped lead the Bengals to a win in their 2014 home finale, Hill's longest rush this past season was a 38-yarder, and it didn't come until a Week 17 fourth-and-1 the Bengals needed to convert.
Hill did have a career-high 11 rushing touchdowns in 2015, though all but two of them came in goal-line territory.
One of the primary factors behind Hill's larger struggles, however, stemmed from his inability to consistently run through tackle attempts. He may have done an OK job of that at the goal line, but in the open field it was often a different story.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Hill averaged just 1.46 yards after contact this season. That average ranked him behind 42 other NFL running backs, including teammate Giovani Bernard, who bounced back from his own tough sophomore campaign to be a greater contributor in the running and passing games during his third season. Bernard set career highs in rushing yards (730) and rushing average (4.7 yards per carry). He also had 472 receiving yards. When he was handed the football, Bernard averaged 1.9 yards after contact.
Whenever he would be hit during his rookie season, Hill went on to gain another 2.29 yards per carry. That yards-after-contact average ranked fourth in the NFL, outpaced only by LeGarrette Blount, Marshawn Lynch and Eddie Lacy.
Yes, Hill's five lost fumbles in 2015 were problematic, and he will need to find ways to better secure the football next season. Beyond that, though, he also has to figure out a way to tap back into the success he had his first season. It was last spring when Hill said he spent his offseason putting a heavy emphasis on working out his legs in hopes of running through tackles even better than he did as a rookie. That training didn't appear to pay off this past season. Will it in 2016?