Going back to a place where a player or coach previously worked in 2020 isn’t quite what it usually is. Returning to old towns or franchises and reunions with former teammates and coaches are still common, but returning to old digs is a whole lot different because of the COVID-19 logs.
But even with that in mind, the homecoming storylines faced by two members of the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend won’t be erased.
While the Jaguars (1-2) travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals (0-2-1) in search of their second win of the season, Tyler Eifert and Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden will be looking for their first wins, despite not being members of the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I look forward to going back there. It will be nice. They allow fans in the stadium so that my family can go, “said Eifert during a media conference on Wednesday.
“When I played there, they’ve come to pretty much every home game so it’s good to have them there. It’ll be cool to go back and play for the other side, though [I’m] look forward to something.”
Eifert is in his first season with the Jaguars after spending seven years with the Bengals from 2013 to 2019. In the first round of Cincinnati in 2013 (No. 21 overall), Eifert played 59 games with 37 starts in his seven seasons in Cincinnati. He had 185 receptions for 2,152 yards and 24 TDs and made the 2015 Pro Bowl after 13 touchdown passes.
For Eifert, Sunday’s duel against the Bengals is the first time in his NFL career that he will play against his former team. Eifert, once seen as a building block for the Bengals’ future, said Wednesday the Bengals had made it clear in 2019 that it would not do so in the future, which resulted in him ending up with the jaguars.
“I think we want to try to reach 20 goals just because,” joked Eifert.
“But no, I think you always want to play well against your old team, but I don’t want to distract you. I don’t want it to be about me or anything. We have to leave this team.” in there and get yourself a win and put that thing in the right direction. “
Eifert’s vast experience with the Bengals, including their current coaching staff and most of their squad, could prove to be an invaluable resource for the Jaguars this Sunday.
For example, Eifert knows the little details and intricacies of most of the defenders the Bengals will deploy out there on Sunday, which could give a boost to those on the Eifert offensive.
“From an offensive point of view, [they’ve been asking] just the kind of players, “said Eifert.
“You can learn a lot from just watching movies, but when you’re there, going through a camp, a series of camps and practicing against these guys, it’s easy to pass on some of the things that they’re good at and then.” some of the things they aren’t that good at. I was definitely able to help the tight ends of what to look for. “
The Bengals’ play-caller during Eifert’s rookie season was Gruden, who, according to Eifert, was an important reason the veteran’s tight end signed with the Jaguars. For Gruden, who was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator from 2011 to 2013, the first three years of the Andy Dalton era were
From 2011 to 2013 he was the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals and directed Andy Dalton’s first three seasons in the NFL. The Bengals’ offense flourished with Gruden’s West Coast, a heavy game program. Gruden played a huge role in the Bengals making it into the postseason in each of his seasons with the team, including winning an AFC North title in 2013.
In Gruden’s three seasons with the Bengals, his crimes took 18th, 12th and 6th place. Dalton had the most touchdowns (33) and yards (4,293) of his career in 2013 under Gruden’s guidance.
Gruden has played against the Bengals since leaving in 2014 to become Washington’s head coach. However, this game took place in London. This time around, Gruden is set to return to what was widely considered to be his most successful NFL stop.
“I like Cincinnati. I have a lot of respect for the Brown family. [Bengals President] Mr. Brown has been very fair to his coaches and players. [I have] a lot of respect for them, nothing but good things, “said Gruden on Wednesday.
“Trainer [Marvin] Lewis was a great coach to work for. We had some great young players: Andy Dalton, AJ Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert. We had a lot of fun in these three years and had a lot of success. Unfortunately we didn’t win a playoff game that still leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but like I said, [I have] nothing but respect for this area and this organization. “
Of course, a lot has changed at the Bengals since Gruden last trained the team. They have a new head coach, a new quarterback and, for the most part, an entirely new squad.
But it’s still a team that has a few holdovers from Gruden’s tenure with the team. The nature of football is that teams are overhauled in one way or another each season, and even if that happens in Cincinnati, Gruden is still familiar with the team the Jaguars will face.
“I think you’ll just get used to it. It was a bit weird, but the way football is now, I think there are only two or three people left that I know on this staff and as a player. I think the only guys left are Giovani Bernard and AJ Green. I don’t know who else is out there, Carlos Dunlap and Geno [Atkins] [are still there]”Said Gruden.
“So times change, players change, coaches change, but like I said, the organization is solid. Mr. Brown runs a class organization and it will be good to play against him. We have to win though.”