Last season, the Bengals’ most effective personnel package might have been one tight end, three wide receivers and one back with Mohamed Sanu and Andrew Hawkins complementing A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham. OC Jay Gruden said the plan is still to feature that package quite a bit, probably in nickel.
“It’s just that our base package will probably feature more two tight ends (including rookie Tyler Eifert), two receivers rather than one tight end two backs,” he said. “We can get everything in our running game in that personnel group. It’s taking out a fullback and putting in a heck of a pass catcher and hopefully a good blocker. We like to mix up our personnel groupings and keep defenses off balance hopefully and be diverse in what we do. Our goal is to get our best players on the field.”
If the Bengals can force defenses to go nickel on first and second down with two tight ends on the field as the Patriots do, running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard are going to see a lot of daylight. The key is Eifert being multi-dimensional—not just a pass catcher.
“If Tyler is a good blocker, that puts us in a good advantage in the run game,” Gruden said. “That’s what New England does so well. They get teams to match up nickel with them and they can run the ball effectively out of that two tight end set. They have an extra big body blocking. Tyler has a long way to go to prove he’s a good blocker. Training camp will help him. Coach [Jonathan] Hayes has been around tight ends for a long time and is a great tutor for him.”
Eifert is going to have a tough time getting enough snaps to be fantasy relevant as a TE2.