Did A.J. Green Hit the Wide Receiver Wall?

Photo of A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals.
A.J. Green has been struggling this season. But can he bounce back? PHOTO CREDIT: Navin75//Flickr

In the wake of a 0-2 start, it’s very clear that Joe Burrow needs help. 

There are so many things wrong with the Bengals, it’s impossible to just point to one underlying issue.

After the Bengals threw Burrow into the trenches with a limited offseason and zero preseason games, you’d expect him to at least start off slow. Instead, he’s flashed greatness even with conservative play calling and putrid offensive line play putting a damper on his offense. 

The offensive line is the key reason why Joe Mixon and company haven’t been able to develop any sliver of a rushing game. Mixon has averaged 3.3 yards per carry over his first two contests. He hasn’t earned his keep as a workhorse back, despite his new 4-year extension. This severely limits the offense. Teams can hone in on the passing game and neutralize the success of play-action. 

Burrow, in turn, has had to shoulder the load for the Bengals. He leads the league with 97 pass attempts through his first two games. The fact that he’s already been carrying an entire franchise on his back during his first taste of the NFL is just WILD.  

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All of these issues are understandable, however the one thing that truly shocks me is the connection (or lack thereof) between Burrow and Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green

Green is currently tied for the third-most wide receiver targets in the league. Yet, he has only pulled in 8 catches for 80 yards. Green’s 36.4 catch percentage, which lands in the bottom echelon of the league, is the best example of Cincinnati’s inefficiencies. 

Is this just a chemistry issue? It would be understandable after a shortened offseason and lack of reps.

Maybe Green is just rusty? He did miss the entirety of 2019 due to an ankle injury

Or has the 32-year old Green hit the receiver wall? We saw former star receivers like Dez Bryant and Andre Johnson fall off a cliff out of nowhere just a couple years ago. 

If Green is in fact not the same player he once was, Burrow will need to stop force feeding him the ball. The young QB will have to figure this out quickly, or his growth could be severely capped.

However, if Burrow and Green can form a connection, the Bengals could be a formidable football team. It could open up the rest of the offense due to the attention that it would demand from opposing teams. 

Green could be exactly what Burrow needs in order to be crowned the “Tiger King.” 

AKA the Hebrew Hammer | Undrafted free agent out of SUNY Oswego | Co-founder, Podcast Co-Host and Lead Journalist for The Challenge Sports | Overly optimistic Nets and Colts fan | Wrote an unpublished erotic novela in high school | Have been balls-deep in the ESPN comment section since I was conceived | Have been blocked on twitter 39 times and counting | Once told a girl to do a back flip on the dance floor and she busted her ass | Favorite beer: Miller High Life | Racist: No

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