Maybe it's because Tyler Eifert is just doing his job.
He isn't the starting tight end- Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden made that clear when he was drafted. But, Dalton and others talk about Eifert like he is one of the primary targets in the passing game, in a recent article by Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson.
"When you put Jermaine and Tyler in there who are both 6-6 and then A.J. who is 6-4, we’ve got some big targets to throw to," Dalton said after the sixth voluntary workout of the offseason.
"That's the thing. When you get in those situations, who are you going to take away?" Dalton asked. "A.J.? Jermaine? Tyler? That's what they're going to have start figuring out."
Finally, after six days of OTAs, Eifert is starting to get a bit of high praise from someone. Most importantly, it's from his quarterback, Andy Dalton.
"From Day One nothing has seemed too big for (Eifert). It’s like ‘You want to go do this, OK I’ll go do this.’ He does it really well. That’s why we picked him with the first pick and he’s really well deserving," Dalton said.
"[On Eifert and Gio Bernard]: With those guys being in there, there’s already the comfort level that we’re not having to worry about what they’re doing. It seems like they have already been here for a while. The good thing with those guys is if they don’t know, they are asking questions. Whether it is telling Tyler a route or Gio knowing his protections. The biggest thing right now is there haven’t been a lot of communications issues or errors by those guys. "
Eifert may turn out to be that security blanket that Dalton has needed. Other than AJ Green, no players on the team have really established themselves as truly trustworthy option yet. Quarterbacks, especially young ones, need guys they can trust to go up and make a play, no matter what.
Fortunately, that's Eifert specialty- going up and getting every ball thrown his way. Eifert can make catches even when he's covered. That type of ability leads to trust, confidence, and performance. The failure to find success away from AJ Green was the downfall of the Bengals in both of their wildcard games the past two years. In the first half of the game, they tried to go to Gresham and others, but nobody consistently made plays, and drives stalled.
This year, Eifert will allow the Bengals to be more successful outside of AJ Green, and more successful when throwing to Green too.
The Bengals flashed what they could be when they put Gresham and Eifert on the field at the same time in the red zone. Green thought the double tight-end formation with Gresham and Eifert running downfield helped him score his touchdown.
"If we were in three-receiver sets, the safety would have been coming over the top of me," Green said. "But I was one-on-one."
You can't cover Green one-on-one. But, the addition of Eifert will force defenses to line up differently.
"With Tyler being here a couple of weeks, it seems like he's already been here a couple of years- with what he's been able to pick up, and the way he has meshed into the offense right now. For a first round pick to do that, it has been a good thing. Two, with having video playbooks and everything, the earlier you can get it and acclimate to an offense. I really think that it helps the learning curve a lot because you can watch and observe, you can easily download film after practices, you can really study and learn about technique that way."
Perhaps, Eifert won't come with the growing pains that fellow first round tight end Gresham did- the bad blocking, the penalties, and mental mistakes. But, we haven't seen him in games yet. Hopefully, the addition of Eifert is both smooth and game-changing. Coupling consistent offensive production with the already dominant defense will take this team over the top.