Jeremy Hill: Time for Bengals to 'get to the next level' in 2015

CINCINNATI -- Just wait until next year.

That's a phrase Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill doesn't want to be saying next January, even if many around the Queen City have gotten accustomed to saying it the last four years. To him, the Bengals have no time to waste simply reaching for postseason glory. They have to snatch it.

"It's been four years in a row and if it doesn't happen this year then it's probably never going to happen. That's the mentality and the sense of urgency that we bring in every day. Something has to change."
Jeremy Hill

"It's now or never," Hill said.

The second-year back is of the opinion that after four straight years of first-round playoff disappointment, the Bengals can't sit idly by and be content with simply making it to the postseason. Apparently he isn't the only one who feels that way. Hill said there is an added sense of urgency in the Bengals' locker room this offseason. It's because of it that he believes the Bengals will see different results when the postseason comes around later this year.

"It's been four years in a row, and if it doesn't happen this year, then it's probably never going to happen," Hill said. "That's the mentality and the sense of urgency that we bring in every day. Something has to change.

"Getting to the playoffs every year, that's cool and all, but we want to get to the next level. ... The sense of urgency needs to pick up and just the get-up and the want-to to do it. Everyone has that mentality right now and that's going to definitely help us going into the season."

Cincinnati is 0-6 in the playoffs under coach Marvin Lewis, who is entering his 13th season.

Last week, veteran Leon Hall, a 30-year-old cornerback who has spent all nine of his seasons in Cincinnati, expressed a similar belief that something felt slightly different about this locker room.

The fact that 26 Bengals veterans are entering the final year on their current contracts might be a reason for the refined focus. While the Bengals certainly won't re-sign all their upcoming free agents, members of the front office have expressed a desire to bring back as many as possible.

The contract uncertainty has several players thinking about a little more than winning a championship. One of those upcoming free agents, Hall, joked last week about his wife asking him often this offseason about his contract situation.

Free agency aside, the Bengals aren't minimizing their motivations for wanting to win. Hill said he's heard regularly this offseason from Cincinnatians frustrated over the fruitless postseason trips. Even only a year into living in the region, he understands it.

"For me, it's just a burden that we really need to get lifted from this city, from this team, from this ownership, from this coaching staff and for Coach [Marvin] Lewis," Hill said. "It's something that everyone in this locker room really wants to do -- it's just about us going out there and doing it. We can talk about it every day. We can say this and say that, but at the end of the day, we've just got to go out there and get it done."