Dhani Jones: ‘Didn’t Utilize Hill As Much As They Should Have’

Dhani Jones played 11 seasons in the NFL, but before that, he was a three-time All Big Ten linebacker at Michigan.

And yes, he’s happy his Wolverines have hired Jim Harbaugh.

“I think it’s a good pickup,” Jones said on Tiki and Tierney. “And I think that the way that (Michigan interim athletic director Jim) Hackett handled it – going to the 49ers and actually sitting down with Jed York and working out and hashing out all these details so there wasn’t necessarily all this back and forth – was an admirable way to do it. I think that Hackett, through his gravitas, was essentially the one that could pull it off because Harbaugh was getting pulled in so many different directions, whether it was the Jets or whether it was the Oakland Raiders. He was a highly sought-after guy, and I think people looked at the way that he coaches and the way that he approached the game, and they thought it was better suited for a collegiate atmosphere.”

While Harbaugh hopes to have a bright future at Michigan, Marvin Lewis has had an ignominious past in Cincinnati. The Bengals have gone one-and-done in the playoffs six times under Lewis, including each of the last four seasons.

Is it time for a change? Jones, who played for the Bengals from 2007 to 2010, says no.

“With all the pieces that they have to the puzzle, they’re just this close,” Jones said. “And I don’t think it’s one or the other; I think it’s just being in the right place at the right time. You know, Tiki, a lot of times it comes down to that luck factor – and there was no luck in this game except for on the other side of the ball in Indianapolis.”

Andrew Luck torched the Bengals to the tune of 376 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 26-10 win, which wasn’t even as close as the final score indicates. The Bengals punted eight times and did not score after halftime. In fact, they only scored three points after the first quarter – and that came on a 57-yard field goal by Mike Nugent that hit the post and caromed inside the uprights.

“When you’re without A.J. Green, who’s your biggest receiver, and when you’re without Jermaine Gresham, who inevitably is your best tight end, you’re hamstrung,” Jones said. “I just feel they didn’t utilize Jeremy Hill (13 carries, 47 yards, one touchdown) as much as they should have. If I were the coach, I would have put them into a true West Coast offense and (used) Hill and Giovani Bernard and (Dane) Sanzenbacher and some other pieces of the puzzle and run a New England-style offense.”

Yes, that would have good – but the Bengals didn’t do that. Isn’t that on Lewis? Is his personality and style even suited to winning? Especially for a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game in almost a quarter of a century?

“I think that the way that he coaches is the way that the team has (been) built to where they are right now,” Jones said. “Let’s not forget it wasn’t too long ago that there was really a dark cloud over Cincinnati and the Bengals. He got them out of that storm. And I was a part of that change that was going on between 2008 and 2009, and I watched it. That steady course is the mentality of the Brown family. I think that the way they’re looking at it is, ‘Look, we’re making a long-term investment in people that we want to work with.’”

Still, that’s four straight years of losing in the first round of the playoffs.

“It’s unfortunate,” Jones allowed, “but what about the games before that? What about the games where we were (finishing below .500)? Now Dalton comes in there. I think with a little bit of luck – if A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham had been in the game and they would have stuck to the run game with Jeremy Hill – I think we would have won that game with Indianapolis. I honestly think it was a better-suited game than going against Baltimore. Football comes down to a couple things: coaching, players and a little bit of luck. That’s what goes into it.”

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