The Bengals are weak at the tight end position but if Sean McVay’s offense has shown us anything, that doesn’t have to be a problem.
Throughout free agency and the draft, Zac Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals have gotten better at most positions. At linebacker, they drafted three very talented rookies. At wide receiver, they selected Tee Higgins and expect to have A.J. Green back from injury. At the most important position on the roster, quarterback, they took Joe Burrow with the first pick in the draft. One of the few positions the roster has gotten worse at, however, is tight end.
After making it through an entire 16-game season for the first time in his career, veteran tight end Tyler Eifert left Cincinnati to play with Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the loss of Eifert, C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample will need to step up.
Uzomah has flashed from time to time but has never shown a consistent ability to be a true #1 tight end in the NFL. Sample, on the other hand, hasn’t yet shown an ability to play at all in the NFL, let alone step up into one of the top two spots on the team.
The Bengals drafted Drew Sample out of Washington with their second-round pick in the 2019 draft. Although many analysts and fans considered this a massive reach at the time, it shows that the coaching staff and front office have faith in him to step up when the time comes. The former Huskies’ tight end may be more well known for his blocking than receiving, but he will be expected to a little bit of both with the departure of Eifert.
Sean McVay’s blueprint
The good news for head coach Zac Taylor and the Bengals is that you don’t need to be great at the tight end position to have a high powered offense. A perfect example of that would be Sean McVay’s offense with the Los Angeles Rams, an offense in which Taylor was apart of and got a first-hand look.
In the 2018 season, the Rams rode to the Super Bowl on the back of a top-five offense. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns, a performance that likely got then quarterback coach Taylor the head coaching job in Cincinnati. With such a prolific passing performance, the Rams’ tight ends must have had great statistical seasons too, right? Think again.
Gerald Everett led Rams’ tight ends with an unimpressive 33 receptions, 320 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns. The team’s next best tight end that year, Tyler Higbee, had 24 receptions, 292 receiving yards, and 2 receiving touchdowns. These stats put both of the Rams’ 2018 tight ends outside of the team’s top five receiving options.
Despite low stats from their top tight ends, the Rams still managed to produce one of the best offenses in recent league history and make their way to the Super Bowl. In 2020, the Bengals will look to do the same. With Taylor likely using a very similar scheme to the one the Rams used, they could have similar success.
While neither C.J. Uzomah nor Drew Sample will have seasons on the level of many top tight ends in the NFL, they don’t need to for the Bengals to have one of the best offenses in the league. With a loaded group at wide receiver and solid running backs with strong receiving abilities, Joe Burrow won’t have to rely on any tight end to have a solid rookie year. The key won’t be any one player, but Taylor’s ability to coach the weapons he has at his disposal.