Quarterback Dalton, Bengals enjoying using two tight ends in offense
If you have them, you might as well use them.
That's Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis' thought after he used a first-round pick in April on Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert despite already having a more-than-capable tight end in Jermaine Gresham.
Lewis used his tight ends a lot during an opening-week loss to Chicago. Out of Cincinnati's 55 offensive plays, 33 included both Gresham and Eifert on the field at the same time.
Quarterback Andy Dalton looked their way often, and they were efficient when he decided to throw in their direction. Eifert and Gresham were targeted five times each against the Bears and both finished with five catches — Eifert 5 for 47 yards and Gresham 5 for 35 yards.
One of the plays the Bengals used in order to take advantage of an attacking Bears defense was the flow left play-action boot underneath drag that featured Eifert's speed and pass-catching abilities.
Surely, the Bengals will use the play in some fashion Monday night in order to slow down the pass rush-happy outside linebackers of the Steelers.
The Bengals used their two tight ends in a variety of formations last week, including unbalanced, balanced, one lined up in the slot or a combination of all three.
On the flow left play-action boot underneath drag, the Bengals line up with a strong left formation with Gresham on the end of the line and Eifert next to him but off the line. Receiver Mohamed Sanu lines up in the slot to the weak side, and fellow receiver A.J. Green flexes out wide right.
At the snap, the offensive line fires off the ball hard to the left to bait the defense into thinking the play is going to be an outside zone stretch run by tailback BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The play-action motion gets the defense flowing to the right and eventually out of position.
Gresham crosses just behind in the inside linebackers about 10 yards down the field, Green runs a deep out, and Sanu cracks the left outside linebacker from the slot, allowing Dalton to roll to the right.
The play is designed for Eifert, who will cross behind the formation at the snap and turn up quickly and out just outside the tackle box on the play side of the formation.
The design of the play forces a linebacker to run with Eifert across the formation despite having to first honor the run action to the opposite side.
The Bengals ran the play twice against the Bears but in two different formations. Both were successful.
“(Eifert) is smart. He understands football, and he's been a great complement to Jermaine,” Lewis said. “Jermaine is so physically talented and does such good things as a receiver. Now, we've got two guys that we feel good about.”
It will be the responsibility of the Steelers linebackers and safeties to prevent the Bengals from relying on their tight ends and especially in the flow left play-action boot underneath drag.