Like It or Not, Jermaine Gresham Will Be Key for the Bengals
Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham (84) makes a catch during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
As of Friday, the Bengals announced that second-year tight end Tyler Eifert would miss the remainder of the season following shoulder surgery. Eifert’s left shoulder was operated on to repair some issues he was having prior to the season. Eifert’s right elbow injury, the one that landed him on the I.R. originally, was not ready for NFL action, so the team made the decision to shut down Eifert.
With Eifert officially out, the Bengals will now rely on Jermaine Gresham to carry the load at the tight end position. The much maligned Gresham has actually had a pretty successful season this year regardless of what fans have to say about him. With six receptions tonight, Gresham would set a career high for catches (65). Thus far, Gresham hasn’t produced a ton of yards (440), but is coming off his best game of the year. Gresham racked up nine catches for 63 yards and a touchdown versus the Broncos on Monday night. Gresham was huge on the day considering A.J. Green was limited very early in the game after sustaining an injury to his right bicep.
Through 15 games this year, and 840 snaps (85%), Gresham only has four penalties (three false starts and one illegal motion). This while Gresham only has two dropped passes on the year after being targeted 77 times. These realities run counter to the typical beliefs regarding Gresham.
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In the upcoming games, it’s a foregone conclusion that Jermaine Gresham will play a significant role one way or another. If the Bengals win today, they’ll face the Baltimore Ravens. In that game, Gresham would need to be both a quality blocker and receiver. The Ravens possess one of the league’s best running defenses and worst passing defenses at the same time. Yet due to the struggles of Andy Dalton in the past, the Bengals will still need to keep the Baltimore defense honest by running the ball effectively while maintaining a balanced attack. This will mean that Gresham will also need to be effective enough to keep the Baltimore linebackers busy and allow room for others to work.
If the Bengals lose to the Steelers this evening, then the Bengals will face the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have allowed tight ends to be effective against them this year; for all you fantasy buffs, they have surrendered the second most fantasy points to tight ends this year. This means Jermaine Gresham could play a big role in that hypothetical matchup.
Regardless of how things play out tonight, whether he is asked to be a blocker or a receiver, Jermaine Gresham is the Bengals’ man at tight end for the remainder of the season. He’s done his job for much of the season while avoiding the costly mistakes he’s made all too often in the past. Hopefully, Gresham can continue to be the solid, if unspectacular, version of himself and help the Bengals overcome their playoff woes.