After Cincinnati’s ugly victory against the Dolphins, one thing is obvious, Cincinnati needs Tyler Eifert back.
Prior to Thursday night’s game, Cincinnati was just 3 out of 10 in scoring touchdowns in the red zone. To make matters worse, all three touchdowns were rushing touchdowns and all three belong to Jeremy Hill.
Going into the game against the Dolphins, Cincinnati had to do a couple of things. They needed to create a balance between the rush and pass, develop a running game, and score in the red zone, all while figuring out how to become 2-2. Out of all these goals set forth, Cincinnati accomplished one; winning the game.
One can make an argument that Cincinnati accomplished a balance of passing and rushing. The Bengals ran 68 plays while 31 were passes and 37 were rushes. Given that the Bengals were up, they can get a pass on that one. However, establishing a run and scoring in the red zone were both failures. The Bengals only rushed for 77 yards against the league’s second-worst run defense and went 1 for 3 in the red zone. In this case, A.J. Green actually caught red zone touchdown, but other than that, Mike Nugent kicked the Bengals to victory.
The Bengals offense is struggling mightily without Eifert on the field. Last season, Eifert caught 13 touchdowns, but the alarming thing to take into account is that 11 of those touchdowns came within the red zone. Andy Dalton loves to target his tight ends when the Bengals have a short field to work with. As we’ve seen, Dalton increases his targets to C.J. Uzomah when they are that close. Uzomah has tried to replace Eifert, but his problems with drop balls and coordination have prevented him from being a serviceable backup.
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Dalton needs his safety option for the Bengals to be truly great. Without the likes of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones the Bengals have proven that they can still compete. Tyler Boyd is looking like he is going to break out at any moment and Brandon Lafell looks like he finally found his hands after a dropping campaign last season in New England. Eifert is the missing piece.
Finally, Eifert isn’t just going to help the passing attack. If Eifert is on the field, the running game will open up. Right now, the NFL is not worried about anyone else in Cincinnati except A.J. Green. A lot of attention goes to him and rightfully so, but while two people are focusing on Green the rest are in the box stopping the run. With Eifert and Green, that’s not possible.
Eifert is supposed to be back from his ankle surgery for next week’s game at Dallas. Playing a game in Jerry World is a lot harder than it sounds. Cincinnati has to win next week and to do that, the Bengals need Eifert.