CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 27: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals is congratulated by fans in the end zone after catching a pass for a first down against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
If you're a receiver, then modeling yourself after star wide-out Larry Fitzgerald isn't the worst idea. Green will be working out with the Arizona Cardinal receiver this offseason and the more he can learn, the better. Fitzgerald has everything you'd ever want in a wide receiver: good hands, explosive speed, the clutch factor, and a great attitude. If A.J. Green could mean to Cincinnati what Fitzgerald means to Arizona, Bengal fans would be nothing but smiles for the next decade.
However, not every aspect of Fitzgerald's present situation is worthy of imitation. Since the departure of Anquan Boldin in 2010, Fitzgerald has spent the past two seasons without any sort of quality receiving compliment whatsoever. Neither Steve Breaston in 2010 nor Early Doucet in 2011 topped 720 yards, and while Fitzgerald still managed to compile impressive stats in those seasons, the Arizona offense struggled; finishing 26th in the NFL in 2010 and 24th in the NFL in 2011.
Jerome Simpson is looking as if he'll head elsewhere in free agency. Even though the coaches appear to be high on him, Armon Binns is a true question mark, as he hasn't played an NFL snap. Free agency is essentially over and A.J. Green wants to be as good as Larry Fitzgerald--he doesn't want to have the same issue of lacking a quality counterpart. The NFL Draft would be one route to address that problem, and the Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy writes that A.J. Green would be perfectly okay with the team drafting receiver help in the upcoming draft. He writes:
With some mock drafts...projecting the Bengals to select Notre Dame's Michael Floyd with the 17th overall pick, A.J. Green said he would not be opposed to the Bengals picking up another wide receiver.
Said Green of the possibility: "I hope so. It would be nice to get someone else in here but if we don't there are guys here who can step up. Whatever the team needs."
Whether its Michael Floyd, Armon Binns or someone else, Green takes no sides. But in his humble response, his desire for improvement at the receiver position is clear. The benefits a player like A.J. Green receives from a high quality No. 2 receiver are significant. Focus only on Green, and the No. 2 easily torches the defense, but pay attention to the No. 2, and Green benefits from single coverage. It becomes a "pick your poison" scenario for NFL defenses and a top strength for the Cincinnati Bengals.
As in touch with the game of football as he is, A.J. Green perfectly understands this situation. Larry Fitzgerald has all the skills a receiver could need, yet the Cardinals struggle to put the pieces around him and the offense flounders as a result. With Andy Dalton, Jermaine Gresham, and now BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Bengals are well on their way to avoiding that problem. Just one more piece--a No. 2 receiver--and the offensive picture looks a whole lot more complete.