Tyler Eifert (TE)
The Browns passing game was deceptively bad last year. A lot of people will think because Baker Mayfield nearly had 4,000 yards passing, and had two thousand-yard receiving players that the team performed well. Ignoring Mayfield’s huge turnover rate aside, the passing game was actually bad.
It wasn’t all Mayfield’s fault, and honestly, it wasn’t all Freddie Kitchens’s fault. There was no reliable tight end, no slot receiver, no depth at receiver to spell an injured Odell Beckham Jr., no running back that can catch out of the backfield for a bulk of the year, and when that’s your reality the offense will struggle. Which it did.
The team struggled to move the ball in the air, and that’s because the team only had two targets to throw to. When you become that single-minded on offense, you become very easy to predict. With fewer options to throw to, the more likely you are to force something. That’s exactly what Mayfield did, he forced passes to one of two guys all the time. The two receivers (Beckham, Landry) accounted for about 60% of all passing plays. If you look at the rate of interceptions from Mayfield, it’s easy to assume most of them came from targetting Beckham or Landry and forcing a pass to them because no one else was even remotely open.
Adding a tight end like Tyler Eifert can greatly improve the offense. Eifert has only played 13 games three times in his seven-year career. He’s not the long term answer. That said, he alone nearly matched the entire production of all four of the Browns tight ends from the previous season. He’s a significant upgrade, even if he only plays 12 games. He’s also a significantly better blocker than anyone the Browns have at the position, which allows new coach Kevin Stefanski to run the offense like he wants to.