I feel like a proud father.
After spending all offseason preaching the gospel of A.J. Green wherever I could, the Bengals’ wide receiver came out Thursday night and reminded everyone that he’s really, really, REALLY good and you’re a fool to have ever doubted him.
Green finished the night with five catches for 69 yards and a staggering three touchdowns, all of which were scored in the first half. His first touchdown was the product of nice play design: a fake toss to Joe Mixon that had the Ravens defense rolling left while Green worked his way open across the grain, giving Andy Dalton a nice easy target in the back of the endzone. His third was just a clean, crisp route run from the slot against Marlon Humphrey which he made easy separation on. (It’s amazing what can happen when you put your best receiver into the slot sometimes, [cough] Jon Gruden [cough].)
While both of those touchdowns were nice, it was Green’s second score that reminded everyone just what this man is capable of.
On third & 2 in the first, Dalton ripped a short pass into Green surrounded by three Ravens’ defenders. Green proceeds to catch the ball, effortlessly shake off the corner on his back—literally draped like a cape—and then out run both the Ravens’ defenders around him AND Eric Weddle playing deep safety with presumably a protractor’s number of tackling angles he could’ve used to have brought Green down.
But he didn’t. He couldn’t. Because A.J. Green is just that goddamn good at football.
Now the average Green doubter will have the “I never doubted Green, I just doubted Andy Dalton” excuse locked and loaded and ready to fire at any possible accuser. I grant you Dalton is no Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, but over the last four years he’s been a better quarterback than Eli Manning in almost every statistical category (completion percentage, touchdown percentage, interception percentage, yards per attempt, yards per completion) yet no one doubts Odell Beckham, both in real football and come fantasy draft season.
All that doubt has turned Green into one of the biggest steals of fantasy football this year. I saw Green being taken as late as the third round, which is just preposterous for a man who caught eight touchdowns and 1,078 yards on 75 balls in what many considered a “down” year from him. He’s now ready to feast in an exciting and explosive offense, with weapons around him to take the defense’s focus off just him.
For those who drafted him, well done. You’ve already been handsomely rewarded and it isn’t likely to stop soon. For those who passed, watch, learn, and remember for next year: you never doubt A.J. Green.
Also, someone close to Steve Sarkisian please show him the tape from this game. Steve, THAT IS HOW YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO USE YOUR DESTRUCTIVE MATCHUP NIGHTMARE IN THE RED ZONE. I expect to see the changes made Sunday.