Early this year, Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive coordinator Jay Gruden told National Football Post that he reviewed New England and its double TE set on offense for reference to how the team could utilize rookie Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham. However, Gruden and the Bengals’ offense already have a system in place and they don’t plan on starting from scratch:
“It’s just that our base package will probably feature more two tight ends, two receivers rather than one tight end two backs,” said Gruden to NFP. “We can get everything in our running game in that personnel group. It’s taking out a fullback and putting in a heck of a pass catcher and hopefully a good blocker. We like to mix up our personnel groupings and keep defenses off balance hopefully and be diverse in what we do. Our goal is to get our best players on the field”
After training camp, it appears that Gruden and the Bengals may have a change of heart by putting emphasis on getting the ball to their tight ends, as Eifert’s and Gresham’s size and catching ability makes it hard for the smaller corners and safeties to defend against.
This could be attributed to the impact of injuries to the receiving corps, which may provide an opportunity for the team to run both tight ends in the opening series of Thursday’s preseason game in Atlanta.
Ever since A.J. Green went down with a knee injury at the beginning of camp, Dalton’s favorite target has been Eifert who has caught double-digit passes almost every day of camp in 11-on-11 drills.
The Bengals obviously had high hopes on Eifert, who was selected 21st overall in this year’s draft, and they continue to hope that his abilities as a receiver can change the team’s predictable offense that finished 17th in the NFL last season.
If you happened to catch any of the training camp practices, or even the first episode on HBO’s “Hard Knocks”, you would have seen why Dalton likes throwing to Eifert because of how effortless he makes plays appear even if they’re anything but.
Coach Gruden has liked was he has seen out of Eifert this year, and had nothing but praises for the rookie TE in an interview with the Associated Press a week ago.
“He’s done everything we thought and more,” Gruden told Associated Press. “He’s just one of those guys that when he makes a play, you kind of look around and see if anybody else saw what he just did.”
Going up against some of the Bengals’ more promising secondary like rookie Shawn Williams and veteran Taylor Mays, Eifert had his way with both players in the red zone during training camp.
“He’s running routes and catching the ball,” said Gruden to AP. “He’s very natural at what he does. He can beat man coverage no problem. He can beat zones. He’s got a great feel for the game.”
How much of the Bengals’ offense will resemble New England’s’ will depend on how Eifert – and let’s not forget Gresham – play during the preseason. If Gresham can continue his play from 2012, and Eifert can become as effective in run-blocking like he is at catching, we might see more of the two tight end set during the season.
“If Tyler is a good blocker, that puts us in a good advantage in the run game,” Gruden told AP. “That’s what New England does so well. They get teams to match up nickel with them and they can run the ball effectively out of that two tight end set. They have an extra big body blocking. Tyler has a long way to go to prove he’s a good blocker.”