Jermaine Gresham was, by himself, a threat to opposing defenses. With rookie Tyler Eifert emerging as an equally capable option, the Cincinnati Bengals can now safely boast one of the best tight end pairs in the entire NFL.
Eifert has come along quickly since being selected in the middle of the first round by the team last April. After shining throughout training camp, the former Notre Dame star is already making an impact on the field. His 61-yard catch-and-run on Monday Night Football is proof enough of that, but his impact is much greater.
Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is taking full advantage of his new weapon by deploying both Eifert and Greshman on the field together as much as possible. In Week 1, the pair was on the field together on 58 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. On MNF in Week 2, that number leaped to 66 percent.
Accounting for one of the two releasing into the secondary is hard enough, but finding a way to stop both—especially when one is lined up against a smaller linebacker—has proven to be a serious challenge for defenses.
The two are ideally sized to be effective run blockers as well as playmakers who can gain yards after the catch—Eifert has 68 and Gresham has 93 YAC after two games. Gresham is the clear-cut starter right now, as he’s the more polished blocker, but Eifert is only going to get better with more time on the field.
That’s a scary thought for the rest of the AFC.
If Eifert truly blossoms, opposing defensive coordinators are going to have serious issues stopping the Bengals’ offense. Do they stay in base personnel or switch to nickel to try to negate their effectiveness in the passing game?
In the end, it all comes down to quarterback Andy Dalton’s ability to get the ball to his receivers. But with these two working underneath and extending plays, he’ll have a shot to improve and take himself and the Bengals to the next level.