With the 21st overall selection in the 2013 NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert—a selection that Bengal fans believe will give the Cincinnati offense and quarterback Andy Dalton a much-needed weapon.
But, how does Eifert make the offense more dynamic?
The NFL has become a copycat league, and these days the two-tight end set and the read-option packages on offense are the flavor of the day. With Eifert now on board, Cincinnati will now have the chance to utilize one of these powerhouse formations—an offensive set formation that has proven to create mismatches for opposing defenses.
The New England Patriots are most famous for their use of this formation. Tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski have been nightmarish matchups for defenses. Paired with incumbent starter Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals will also have two towering targets on the field at the same time.
How successful is the two-tight end set? Here is a look of one of the many ways that the Patriots have dominated with this formation over the past few seasons.
This play is a variation of the set, with one tight end split out wide (Hernandez) pre-snap and one tight end staying tight to the line (Gronkowski).
Hernandez shifts in closer to Gronkowski before the snap, which allows quarterback Tom Brady to see that the defense is in man coverage.
This shows that one safety will have to cover Gronkowski as the cornerback covers Hernandez. Brady now knows that this leaves one single-high safety as a center fielder.
After the snap, a linebacker chips Gronkowski to knock him off of his route. Meanwhile, the defense stays locked in man coverage.
Hernandez breaks to the outside with the cornerback trailing him. The single-high safety remains deep in center field. This allows Brady to instantly recognize the mismatch of Gronkowski and a safety one on one.
Gronkowksi breaks toward the corner of the end zone and the deep safety does not have a good enough angle to close in.
Now, all Gronkowski has to do is finish the play. He makes a nice catch in single coverage with a huge cushion around him.
One last note from this play: Notice the running back on the wheel route. The mismatch of personnel on the field has led to a missed assignment, leaving the back completely uncovered. This formation not only helps the tight ends get open but other offensive weapons as well.
This is just one of the many formations an offense can utilize with two very talented and athletic tight ends on the field.
With a weapon like Eifert added to this offense, look for a more versatile and explosive Bengals offense in 2013.
All screen shots courtesy of NFL Game Rewind.