Without question, the most talented and valuable player on the Bengals roster is A.J. Green. Whether he’s snagging one-handed touchdowns, catching touchdown passes from Mohammad Sanu, or bringing down a game-tying hail mary, A.J. Green is an invaluable asset to a dangerous AFC offense. His dominance on the field has led to the popular phrase that Green is the best receiver on the field “on any given Sunday,” but could he be the hands-down best receiver this year?
Well, this question actually focuses less on Green himself, and more on his competition. Sure, Green has brought in well over 1,000 yards every season, 11 touchdowns in each of the last two years, and only three fumbles in 260 receptions, but how is doing versus the other top contenders?
Green is obviously in the running when put up against the other big-named wide outs. Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, and Green all finished last season within 100 yards of each other. But the big difference comes in the number of targets. Green was targeted 180 times last year, and out of those 4, Antonio Brown was next with 165, but the stat we’ll use for speculating this season is that Green had less than 100 catches out of all of those targets. As I often do when talking about the Bengals’ faults, I might pin some of the blame on Andy Dalton for this. No doubt that an elite quarterback paired with Green would put up record-breaking numbers and rival the absolutely insane passer rating that the Aaron Rogers/Jordy Nelson combo has.
Then there’s Josh Gordon. Gordon blew every other receiver out of the water when he put up 87 catches for 1,646 yards in just 14 games, and he had the overall best season last year, statistically. But will he even be a contender for top wide receiver this year? Gordon is currently awaiting the penalty for failing his second drug test this offseason, setting him up as potentially the biggest waste of talent in the NFL since JaMarcus Russell. There’s still no word on the possible season-long suspension that Gordon is facing, but that suspension may be the difference between Green being an “any given Sunday” player, and the undisputed best in the league.
With a Gordon suspension, and Dalton and Green only becoming more comfortable with that offense, I think A.J. Green can assert himself as the top wide receiver and more dangerous offensive threat in the league.