A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham Lead AFC North In Drops In 2012

Scott Halleran

Not that it's a surprise, but Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham led the AFC North in drops through the 2012 season.

A.J. Green had a great season and to say otherwise would be crazy. He finished with 97 catches for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns, which ranked him seventh in the NFL and fourth in the AFC in yardage. He has been the main reason that second-year quarterback Andy Dalton has found success in the league. When Dalton throws the ball Green's way, Green almost always seems to come down with it. Having a wide receiver that can go up and grab the ball, even if the pass isn't quite on target, is a huge asset for any team.

Green was targeted 158 times in 2012. Of course all of those targets didn't turn out to be catches (as stated earlier, only 97 did) but every one that wasn't a catch wasn't necessarily a drop either. However, Green did lead the division in drops in 2012 with nine. To be fair, though, Green was targeted by Dalton far more often than any other receiver in the division. The next most-targeted receiver in the division was Anquan Boldin, who was thrown to 108 times. So, Green's nine drops aren't really that bad when you realize how many times he was thrown to.

Green caught the pass that was thrown to him 61.4 percent of the time, which is 14th best in the league among receivers with more than 100 targets. That means that Green has dropped six percent of the passes thrown his way. That may sound like quite a bit, but it's better than everyone in the league (again, receivers with 100 or more targets) with an exception of Larry Fitzgerald (3 percent), Reggie Wayne (5.5 percent), Roddy White (3 percent), Vincent Jackson (3 percent) and a few others. However, the only player on the list of players with lower drop percentages than Green that had as many or more catches was Wayne.

So, all in all, Green's drops are what I would label acceptable. After all, a receiver can't catch every single ball thrown his way all season. That's not possible.

What isn't really acceptable, though, is Jermaine Gresham's drops. He is tied for second in the division with the Browns' Greg Little with seven drops. Gresham was targeted 92 times and had 64 receptions for a reception percentage of 69.6. However, that also makes his drop percentage near eight percent. The only tight ends with worse drop percentages than Gresham were, interestingly enough, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Pettigrew. Gresham isn't necessarily in bad company when he's grouped in with Gronk and Hernanzez, but many of his drops came in key situations, and you only have to remember back to the team's playoff game to remember a couple of them.

Gresham may have had the best statistical season of his career, which is one of the reasons he's in back-to-back Pro Bowls, but there's also a reason that he has the lowest Pro Football Focus score of any tight end in the league who took more than 75 percent of the offense's snaps throughout the season.

This doesn't mean that the Bengals should dump Gresham. I personally think that Gresham is one of the most physically talented tight ends in the league, however I also think that he could benefit from some more coaching as he seems to lose focus at times.

I personally believe that the Bengals offense is only going to get better. The defense has led to team to the playoffs over the last two years and the offense has limped down the stretch. However, the offense also has more young players, both on the line and at skill position, than the defense and with more experience in 2013, they should click better. If the offense begins to catch up to the defense and if the defense plays at the same level that they have over the last two years, the Bengals are going to be a scary team to face.

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