The return of A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovan Bernard will supply Andy Dalton with the offensive support to propel the Bengals to the Promised Land.
In Part One, I detailed why Andy Dalton is poised to lead the Bengals to postseason glory this upcoming season. Part Two, focusing on the return of A.J. Green, Eifert, and Bernard, will help solidify my case for why Dalton will continue his annual improvement. It will also detail how the Bengals will get over their “playoff win” hump.
Before suffering a hamstring strain in Week 11 versus Buffalo, Green was on pace for a 1,800-yard season. It would’ve been his sixth consecutive season with at least 1,000 yards receiving. It’s obvious the impact he has on the offense and its ability to move the ball. When Green went down, a huge sigh of sadness echoed throughout all of Bengaldom.
EIFERT IN YOUR GENERAL DIRECTION
The breakout season of 2015 that Tyler Eifert enjoyed was exactly what the Bengals envisioned when they drafted him in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. The 2016 season began in injured fashion and limited Eifert to eight games. He lined up with Green in only two games.
The Tight End Seam route that dismantled defenses in 2015 was almost entirely ineffective without the usual double coverage on Green. Eifert was held to five touchdowns. A healthy Eifert matched with a totally healthy Green–and a slew of young, talented, and very fast receivers–will return Eifert to his monstrous production from 2015.
RUN GIO, RUN!
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That large sigh of sadness from A.J.’s Week 11 injury turned into a collective moan of mourning when Giovani Bernard tore his ACL in the same Week 11 matchup. The Bengals’ scrappy, third-down, do-it-all, running back was now lost for the season. The already struggling running game was handed a big blow. Bernard has also become one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league. And Dalton losing another reliable weapon–after the loss of Green–all but ended the 2016 campaign.
FULL STRENGTH ARSENAL
In 2015, when the Bengals began 8-0, they had more weapons than Scut Farkus had freckles. Hue Jackson’s offense had defenses screaming “Uncle” like Scut’s victims in A Christmas Story. Dalton was pulling the trigger with ease.
Green, Eifert, and Bernard combined with other young weapons should create mismatch nightmares and crocodile tears for defensive coordinators. The fate of the season is riding on the health of the Bengals three-headed offensive juggernaut.