Bengals Making An Eifert To Diversify Their Offense
By Jason Henry
When the Cincinnati Bengals decided to select tight end Tyler Eifert with the 21st pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, many predicted the offense would automatically shift into the next gear. The Notre Dame product was described as the best pass-catching tight end available and the Bengals could have used another playmaker, although it wasn’t at the top of their list. Although the team possesses the athleticism of A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham, there has been something missing that has not allowed the offense the ability to take it to the next level.
Now because of Eifert’s arrival, the Bengals have started to install “two-tight” sets into their offense, but it’s not the old, traditional two-tight sets that fans were accustomed to before the New England Patriots shattered the mold. Because of the success of TEs Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, more teams are beginning to utilize the two-tight offense. The caveat, however, is that is both tight ends have the ability to threaten the defense in the passing game.
Here is an example: Gronkowski had over 1,300 receiving yards in 2011 with 17 touchdowns and 90 receptions. Outside of receiver Wes Welker, he was a big reason as to why the Patriots offense was so deadly. To use a golf term, their “short game” is what helped them win.
Bringing it back to the Bengals, Gresham had a career high in catches and yards in 2012 as he hauled in 64 balls for 737 yards. His ability to catch tough passes and bang out short-yardage plays for the Bengals — while not Gronk-like — is essential to the team. Since he’ll line up opposite Eifert and possibly Green, Gresham’s numbers will almost certainly decrease, but his impact on the game will not.
According to a report on SI.com, Eifert lined up as a tight end on both sides of the line and played the slot position as well during the Bengals’ recent rookie minicamp (much like Hernandez does). If the rookie is able to hold his own in the slot, his success there and over the middle of the field should take a lot of pressure off Green. In fact, Cincinnati’s offense has been far too dependent on Green’s ability to make plays. Removing the pressure-filled bubble from around Green’s hands may allow him to play without the threat of double teams on every play.
So far, the simple presence of Eifert on the field has given the Bengals new hope for 2013.