ESPN's NFL Live apparently does not agree with the high expectations surrounding A.J. Green and his upcoming sophomore season. The crew on the show were dissecting and predicting what they think the Bengals' dynamic duo will produce in 2012, in terms of stats, and their predictions weren't exactly favorable.
When asked whether or not Green would surpass 1,057 yards (his 2011 total) in 2012, analysts Tedy Bruschi responded by saying the following:
I think it's going to be less. I think defenses are going to take him out of the game and will do everything they can to make Andy Dalton be a complete quarterback and see the entire field.
Fellow analyst Damien Woody agreed with Bruschi that an increase in defensive attention--primarily due to the departure of Jerome Simpson--would lead to a decrease in production from Green.
I think it is going to be less also because they don't have an established No. 2 receiver. Jerome Simpson left for the Minnesota Vikings, so I think defenses are going to focus more on A.J. Green this year.
On paper, yes, it is true that the A.J. Green and the Cincinnati Bengals lost Jerome Simpson and his 725 yards and four touchdowns this offseason. But this presumed impact Simpson had on A.J. Green's production is being wildly overestimated. Take away his three best games, and Simpson had only 336 yards in 13 games. He had under 50 yards in 12 (12!!) games in 2011 and in feature games against Cincinnati's most hated opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Simpson was shut out both times: zero yards, zero catches, twice. He embodied inconsistency and the organization felt the same way when they let him run off to Minnesota this offseason.
NFL Live host, Trey Wingo, also stressed the importance of the No. 2 receiver position, but instead of looking to the past, he looked to the future.
Mohammah Sanu, the rookie, may be the key to making sure that A.J. Green has a good year.
Sanu was drafted to become the guy across the field from Green, but whether he is ready to fill that role yet remains to be seen.
The analysts also discussed quarterback Andy Dalton and agreed that he would throw more than 20 touchdowns in 2012. Stressing Dalton's development and the importance of A.J. Green, analyst Tedy Bruschi said:
I'm going to say he throws for more and he starts to spread that ball around. Jermaine Gresham, the tight end, should have a big year. I know he's got A.J. Green out there, but as he learns, hopefully he'll learn to see the field more and get more touchdowns.
Despite a stellar rookie year, Dalton certainly has room for improvement. Given his poise and talent, not surpassing the 20 touchdown mark would almost surely be a disappointment.
So, what do you think? Will A.J. Green top 1,057 yards? Will Dalton throw more than 20 touchdowns?