Half a year ago, we posted a handful of "Bold Predictions" for the 2015 NFL season involving the Cincinnati Bengals. Some predictions were on the wild side... well they mostly all were, but the one we're about to look back on turned out to be 100 percent accurate.
Now that the Bengals' season has concluded, we're taking a look back to see if any of these predictions came true, or if they were just a bit too bold. One of those predictions was that Tyler Eifert would be named to the Pro Bowl. Now that the Pro Bowl has come and gone, it's a fact that Eifert did indeed make the Pro Bowl this season, and proved to be one of the NFL's best tight ends.
Why this prediction was bold
In two seasons (through 2014), Eifert had compiled a grand total of 42 receptions for 482 yards and two touchdowns. After missing nearly all of the 2014 season, Eifert's potential was still unknown and Andy Dalton was coming off a down 2014 season. The Bengals had also just unveiled their two-headed, high volume backfield of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. There were questions regarding what would be in store for the Bengals' offense in 2015 and Eifert was being heavily praised, but the proof was still needed to see what he could do.
Why this prediction was feasible
None of the Pro Bowl tight ends from 2014 were locks to repeat
Rob Gronkowski is always an injury risk. Jimmy Graham had been traded to a less prolific passing team. Julius Thomas had been traded to a team that seemed offensively inept. And Greg Olsen was coming off a career year, with no guarantee to repeat it. There was room for a new tight end to emerge as one of the league's best.
Hue Jackson seems to like utilizing tight ends
Jackson had a successful record with tight ends in the past and Eifert was heavily involved in the Bengals’ game plan for the first two offensive possessions of the 2014 season before his season ending injury.
Successful running game
The 2014, the Bengals were a bit run heavy, rarely taking the tight end off the field in favor of three and four wide receiver sets. This indicated Eifert would be on the field on most offensive plays.
Jermaine Gresham’s departure
Eifert had to split time with Gresham in his first two seasons, but with only rookies Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah on the depth chart, Eifert was poised to see the bulk of the tight end work once Gresham left for the Cardinals.
Final Grade? A+
|Games||Targets||Receptions||Yards||Y / R||TD|
Eifert not only made the Pro Bowl, but led all tight ends in touchdown receptions, despite missing three games in 2015. The other Pro Bowl tight ends (Gary Barnidge, Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker), compiled 20 touchdowns, whereas Eifert gathered 13 by himself, in only 13 games compared to Barnidge, Kelce and Walker's 47 games combined. Eifert was an exceptional red zone target and a huge piece of the Bengals' 2015 offensive gameplan. All signs show he should continue that role for many years to come.