The Bengals lost some key receiving targets in free agency, but they still have one of the best pass catching tandems in the league.
While losing both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu is a huge blow, you could also make the argument that it goes to show how good the Bengals are at drafting and developing offensive weapons. The fruits of their labor have resulted in the fourth best receiving duo in the nation, in a list on NFL.com by Bucky Brooks.
Green and Eifert have both been electrifying when on the field. They gave defenses headaches as they combined for 138 receptions, 1,912 yards, and 23 touchdowns in 2015 alone. Eifert almost led the league in touchdowns last year with 13, and probably would have had he not been hurt near the end of the season. Green finished off his fifth consecutive season with more than 1,000 yards receiving.
Without a doubt, Andy Dalton's stellar play in 2015 helped to highlight just how good the receiving tandem is. But, it should also be noted that he probably couldn't have reached quite the same heights without such a talented duo to work with. Really, it's incredible luck on his part that he can throw it anywhere in the vicinity of either of these two and they have the kind of athleticism that can generate spectacular plays with the kind of frequency that almost makes it seem mundane.
You could say that Green and Eifert are all the reason in the world to not need to worry about the loss of Jones and Sanu. As talented and productive as the young receivers could be, they weren't on the same level as Green and Eifert. That's part of why a guy like James Wright or a new draftee might be able to find similar levels of success as the departed duo.
With the kind of success that Green and Eifert saw in 2015, who could possibly be ranked ahead of them? The following tandems made the cut ahead of the Bengals' pair:
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker
The argument made seems to be that the potential is limitless with the newly acquired running back, Matt Forte, in the Jets' backfield. But, he didn't seem to help Marshall much in 2014, when Marshall put up only 721 yards and eight touchdowns while part of a receiver tandem with Alshon Jeffery that was considered one of the best in the league heading into that season. Let's also not forget that Marshall is 32-years-old at a punishing position. Not everyone can be Jerry Rice and play the position until they're 42. Most receivers, like Chad Johnson, start to break down in their early-to-mid 30s.
Without any guarantee that the Jets will have even Ryan Fitzpatrick behind center next year, this seems like a questionable tandem to consider the best in the league. This is especially true when you consider that Green and Eifert will be reuniting with a healthy and confident Andy Dalton, as well as a plethora of talented offensive weapons, albeit a couple less than last year.
Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns
Jacksonville's pair of Allens is certainly a talented young duo with nowhere to go in this league but up. As far as pure potential goes, it doesn't seem crazy to think that Robinson and Hurns deserve to be mentioned as a great receiving duo alongside Green and Eifert. The difference is, Green and Eifert have a combined nine years of experience in the NFL, while Hurns is 24-year-old and Robinson, 22. And, they're catching passes from 23-year-old Blake Bortles. The best is still ahead for that offensive trio.
In a couple of years, look for Allen and Allen to truly challenge as one of the most dominant receiving duos in the NFL. However, as far as 2016 goes, I'm not sure they deserve to be this close to the top.
Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett
This one is a reach. While it's true that Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett have the potential to be one of the scariest tight end duos of all time based on talent alone, it's also true that it's going to take some time for Bennett to adjust to the Patriots' system. As with most free agency signings, expecting high-end results from day one is usually going to lead to some pretty serious disappointment.
Bennett and Gronkowski definitely seem like they could be considered a better duo than Green and Eifert with time, but to say they're the third best now when they haven't even played together is a stretch. When discussing current dangerous receiving tandems, picking two great individuals with no established chemistry over a great pair with a ton of established chemistry, like Green and Eifert, seems ill-advised.
There's a lot to respect about this list. All four pairs, as well as the fifth pair of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, are great receiving tandems that will be very difficult for any defense to handle. Still, there's good reason to argue the Bengals' pair should be ranked ahead of each duo on this list.