The Bengals may have finally found their No. 2 receiver...sort of.
With A.J. Green being the superstar he is, Cincinnati has been unable to find a consistent No. 2 guy to keep defenses from selling out to stop Green. We’ve seen flashes from Tyler Boyd, Brandon LaFell, and even C.J. Uzomah, but none of them have been consistent on a game-to-game basis.
That’s why one big game from Tyler Eifert has his stock on the rise in the Bengals’ offense, and he should be the definitive No. 2 option for Andy Dalton going forward. That was evident in Cincinnati’s Week 8 tie with Washington, which saw Eifert catch a career-high tying nine passes to go with 102 yards and a touchdown.
This was the most receiving yards Eifert has had since Week 1 of the 2015 season in Oakland. That was also the game in which he set a career-high with nine catches for 104 yards, which he tied vs Washington, though he needed overtime this time to get there and had two less yards.
It wasn’t just easy catches over the middle that Eifert was making. He made several tough and contested catches in traffic with defenders draped on him. Eifert has had his issues dropping balls in the past, but he was money in this game, enough that he looked more like a big receiver than a tight end.
The former is really what the Bengals need him to be more of. They already have a pair of decent blocking tight ends in Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah, as well as h-back Ryan Hewitt, who is also used as a blocking end.
That’s why Eifert as a receiver is really where his biggest value in this offense lies. He’s not going to win many blocking battles, which is why Cincinnati has him run routes on nearly every play he’s in.
“You know, Tyler, it's great to have him back out there. He's such a good player. I mean, it showed with the way he played today,” Dalton said after the game. “For Tyler, he's so big, runs such good routes, that you just got to put it around him, make good plays. His ability, that he can do everything from the tight end position is a big matchup for us.”
It looks like Eifert will be as good as he was on Sunday on a consistent basis going forward, and there’s certainly room for him to own the No. 2 weapon role in Cincinnati this season.
Remember, Eifert missed almost all of 2014 while spending 2013 and 2015 as the No. 3/4 guy behind Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. They’re gone now, and the Bengals aren’t getting dominant production from LaFell and Boyd, which means Eifert’s role in this offense is about to be bigger than it’s ever been.
We got a look at that on Sunday, and despite all of the Bengals’ issues, it was essentially enough to carry the Bengals to a win...even if they did give it away.