Daily Focus: How important is TE Tyler Eifert to Bengals' offense?
Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Why Bengals TE Tyler Eifert can’t get back soon enough: The Bengals’ offense has been a talented group for some time now, but it wasn’t until the emergence of Tyler Eifert a season ago that it evolved into one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL. One needs to look no further than the Seahawks game from a season ago, where Eifert caught eight balls for 90 yards and two touchdowns to figure out why. Eifert can stress the seams of a defense at an elite level for a tight end, and with cover-3 being by far the most-called coverage in the NFL, that’s a very important skill to have.
That’s why news of him running again is a plus for Cincinnati. This offseason, the Bengals lost WRs Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency. Second-rounder Tyler Boyd looks on his way to becoming a competent replacement, but relying on receiving production from a rookie is always precarious. Hopefully Eifert can get back to playing shape ASAP.
How about some Eifert alternatives?
Scared of drafting Eifert this year? We don’t blame you. Jeff Ratcliffe offers some other options in his must-draft list.
Antonio Cromartie isn’t an adequate replacement for Colts CB Vontae Davis: This is a bit of a two-for-one section, as the Cromartie signing comes paired with the news that Vontae Davis is expected to miss the first month of the season with an ankle injury. Losing Davis is a big deal for Indianapolis, as the depth of talent in the team’s secondary is scarce. Even in a “down” year for him in 2015, Davis still yielded a completion percentage of 51.0 and 584 yards in his coverage.
Unfortunately for the Colts, Antonio Cromartie is coming off a down year as well, but at 32 years old, it’s unclear if he can bounce back, or if it will be a start of a trend. The former Jet will have a tad easier task with the Colts, as Indianapolis plays much more zone than New York did in 2015, but Cromartie still yielded 790 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Impact of Joey Bosa’s absence on Chargers’ run defense: Word now is that DE Joey Bosa is willing and likely to miss regular season games. I’m firmly on team Bosa in this one, as he only gets one chance to get this right. The Chargers haggling over guarantees not only sends a bad message to their first-round pick, but it also can’t look good to other guys in the locker room looking for extensions.
The largest consequence of the holdout, though, is that their defensive line is still a mess without Bosa. This was the lowest-graded run defense in the NFL last year, and the Chargers yielded 288 rushing yards to the Titans the first week of the preseason. Free-agent nose tackle Brandon Mebane should help some, but he’s 31 and coming off his worst season since 2011. I can’t imagine how a team could let minor details in a contract keep their top-three pick from playing in regular-season games.