Last week was pretty ugly for Atlanta after blowing another 4th quarter lead, but I’m choosing to highlight some of the bright spots. Mykal Walker looked very solid on defense, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson inspired some confidence in place of A.J. Terrell, but there was another offensive weapon that caught my eye.
While the blocking shaped up really nicely on this play, Hill made some impressive cuts and showed off his vision on his way to the endzone.
The former fifth-round pick was actually cut by Atlanta and seemed like a lost cause after he was claimed off of the practice squad by the Bengals. However, Hill saw pretty limited action for Cincinnati and was waived again after a meager 13 touches and 73 yards before finding his way back to Atlanta, and by the end of 2018, he showed flashes of a player that belonged in the NFL, torching Carolina’s defense for 115 yards on only eight carries.
2019 was pretty quiet for Hill, and it seemed like he may be passed over for the new addition, Todd Gurley, or Ito Smith. His numbers showed that the backup job was really anybody’s to seize.
Qadree Ollison – 22 carries, 50 yards, 4 TD, 2.3 Y/A
Ito Smith – 22 carries, 106 yards, 1 TD, 4.8 Y/A
Brian Hill – 78 carries, 323 yards, 2 TD, 4.1 Y/A
Ito Smith was banged up for parts of 2019, but he received 90 carries for 315 yards in 2018, and it seemed he would be the primary second back when healthy. Ollison is a bruiser, and he was likely to handle goal line and short yard packages. But what about Brian Hill? Was he to be forgotten?
The Falcons ended up placing an original-round tender on him in the offseason, guaranteeing him a contract, and he won the backup job out of camp. So far, Hill’s been excellent running outside zone concepts and solid catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s totaled 84 yards on 15 carries and a score and has caught 5 passes for 41 yards — resulting in a 5.6 Y/A & 8.2 Y/R. Hill currently ranks 40th in rushing for running backs, which isn’t bad for only 15 carries.
Is this me advocating for reducing Todd Gurley’s share? Absolutely not. I’m advocating for the team to get creative when running the ball instead of slamming Gurley into the guards for two yards at a time. The Falcons still haven’t solved their issues of establishing the run from last season, but if Brian Hill can be a change of pace back receiving and rushing, it adds a wrinkle to an incredibly stale offense. Dirk Koetter’s group has sorely missed a running back impact, and mixing in Hill as a Tevin Coleman type back could prove worthwhile. When you’re 0-3, it’s time to try something new.