NFL quarterbacks get the most love, attention and credit when pundits pass out the accolades. That's why we were surprised that a recent article on NFL.com omitted the position in one entitled "The Most Indispensable Offensive Players". In it, Adam Schein listed the top nine non-quarterbacks that he deemed the most valuable to their respective teams.
I know what you're thinking: "A.J. Green is definitely in that top nine". As expected, names like Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew (legal issues aside) made the list. As the rest of the names continued down the list, Green's was noticeably missing. Questionable names like San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis made it ahead of Green, as did another guy at the position in Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons. If there was a name from the Houston Texans that you'd expect to make this list, it would likely be Arian Foster or Andre Johnson, right? Well, Schein went with their left tackle Duane Brown instead.
Green did make the honorable mention list of sorts, in what Schein calls "Just Missed the Cut (The Next Nine)". Green is grouped with the Titans' Chris Johnson, Eagles' LeSean McCoy and Cardinals wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald. One could make the argument that it's Green's limited sample size of two accrued seasons as a reason for his omission from Schein's list. However, that argument would be thrown out the window with Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back, Doug Martin making the top-nine ahead of the Bengals superstar wide receiver.
Schein followed up his offensive players list with the top-nine defensive players, only this time there weren't any positions that were excluded. Where Green may have been snubbed on the previous list, Schien called Geno Atkins the most indispensable defensive player in the league.
Surprised? Well, you shouldn't be. The Bengals boast a great defense without a bunch of elite talent. I give the credit to coordinator >Mike Zimmer and the difference-making Atkins. He is a force, seemingly unstoppable in every single aspect of D-line play. Atkins plugs the middle, commands attention and still puts up sensational numbers, sacking the quarterback 12.5 times last year and forcing four fumbles. Atkins ranked sixth in the NFL in knockdowns and hurries, but tops among defensive tackles.
It's an interesting debate that brews here. Most believe that the Bengals wouldn't be nearly as competitive without a weapon on offense like Green. However, the strength of the team the past few years has been on defense and the key cog in that powerhouse unit is Atkins.
Both are outstanding players and it may surprise some that Atkins got more praise on these lists, but nobody can deny the impact that both of these players have on the Cincinnati Bengals.