Hill recorded just 2 sacks combined over 32 games and five starts during the 2019-2020 seasons, but knew he was capable of more. He wasn’t surprised by anything he did last year, even with the quick transition.
“I think highly of myself,” Hill said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence. I know what I can do. And I had Lou in New York, so just knowing him and my friends, like (former college roommate) Germaine (Pratt), they helped me along the way. Just having a year here is just giving me more confidence and being here and getting more into the playbook will help me be the best version of me, because Lou knows what I can do on the field. And that’s why he brought me here.”
Prior to joining the Bengals’ staff in 2019, Anarumo was with the Giants during Hill’s best of three seasons in New York.
The Bengals were looking to improve the pass rush last year and signed defensive end Trey Hendrickson and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to add finishing threats up front, and Hill fit in as a depth piece. The interior pass rush had been almost non-existent during Anarumo’s first two seasons in Cincinnati.
Hill credits defensive line coach Marion Hobby for getting the most out of the unit.
“Coach Hobby is a great coach,” Hill said. “He loves fundamentals and focusing on our details. I think he pushed us to so many levels that we reached. By the end of the year, Super Bowl and playoffs included, I had seven sacks, Larry had seven. The outside guys had a lot of sacks. DJ (Reader) had some, too, as well. But he just pushed us so hard and helped us with our pass rushes. That’s the main reason I think we were so good getting to the quarterback.”
Hill said he knew he wanted to be back this year. He was entering the last year of his rookie contract with the Giants when he was traded, and the Bengals brought him back this offseason on a three-year, $30 million deal.
At the time, Ogunjobi was in the midst of finalizing a three-year, $45 million deal with the Bears, but the Bengals showed belief in Hill as the new starter. He says he is ready to assume that role, something he hasn’t done regularly since 2018.
“I bring a lot to this team, and my D-line, they all push me to the best me so I just come out here every day and nwork and work and work, like I’m a rookie all over again,” Hill said. “That’s how I take each and every day. I don’t think about the past. I like thinking about what’s up and what’s to come, so the past is irrelevant to me. I just like to focus on today and what can I do to get better.”
“My main goal is to be the No. 1 defense. I’m a team guy. Everything else will fall in line when you play good team football, when you play together, when you play for the guy next to you. Everything will just fall in line like it should be.”