The resurgence of the Bengals' offense has been the biggest story in Cincinnati, especially with the passing game appearing miles ahead of where it was last year.
After finishing 15th in total offense and 19th in passing yards per attempt in 2014, the Bengals currently rank 7th in total offense and 9th in yards per attempt this season. Andy Dalton's 120.3 quarterback rating is the fifth best and his five passing scores are tied for the fourth most.
However, the biggest reason why the Bengals have the highest-rated offense and why Dalton is doing so well is because of Tyler Eifert. The emerging star is PFF's No. 1 tight end through two games, just ahead of the Patriots' tight end, Rob Gronkowski. He's finally healthy and a featured weapon in a Bengals' offense that's been devoid of a consistent option at that position since...Tony McGee?
Eifert has the potential to have the greatest season ever by a Bengals tight end at the pace he's on. He already has caught 13 passes on 17 targets for 153 yards and three touchdowns (all team-highs). His latest score came late in the fourth quarter against Brandon Flowers, who held Calvin Johnson to two catches for 39 yards in Week 1.
It was a perfect pass by Dalton, but also was a great move by Eifert to get open and haul the pass in the back of the end zone while getting both feet down:
Eifert looked more like a wide receiver on that play, and that's why the Bengals had him lined up wide to begin with. "I knew I was in when I looked down, but I was looking back for so long that I wasn’t really sure where I was," Eifert said after the game. "Some of the guys made fun of me for patting my feet so many times, but I guess it’s better to have too many feet in than not enough."
There have already been plenty of times Eifert has used his tight-end frame to make contested catches against smaller defensive backs. That's what happened in the middle of the third quarter when Eifert made a tough grab after Jason Verrett had already made contact with him and had used his body to shield Eifert's left arm as he made the catch (some would call that pass interference):
Adding to all of this, Eifert has a cumulative 10.6 PFF grade over his last nine regular-season games dating back to his rookie year in 2013. That includes the 1.3 mark he got in just a quarter of play in Week 1 last year before shoulder and elbow injuries ended his season.
For perspective, only five tight ends finished with a 10+ PFF grade in 2014, and they were Greg Olsen, Jason Witten, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and the aforementioned Gronk. That's great company for Eifert to be among and his continued excellent play should greatly help Andy Dalton and the Bengals' offense.