Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has won the idealism of everything awesome among many Bengals fans. He's the guy that runs into a burning church to save a basket full of adorable-looking puppies with sad eyes and droopy ears. He easily diagnoses and fixes a busted vehicle occupied by an elderly couple on the side of the highway. And during his free time he created a revolutionary propulsion system that allows humanity to achieve intergalactic travel to Avatar the hell out of a planet. Green is to the NFL what Led Zeppelin was to rock and roll in the early 70s.
But that doesn't mean he can't improve. On the contrary. Despite making the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2011, resetting many franchise records, Green is only entering his second season and he has plenty of work on to improve his overall game.
According to Dan Pompei with the National Football Post, the Bengals coaching staff believes that Green needs to clean up his route running, making crisper cuts to achieve a whole new level of greatness that he's destined for.
One of the Bengals’ OTA projects has been cleaning up A.J. Green’s routes. Green had a fantastic rookie season, but the team believes he can take his game to another level with more attention to detail in his routes. "He’s always been such a good receiver that he could beat guys a lot of times just by running around them," Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden told me. "There were times last year when he wasn’t as detailed as he should be in terms of getting off the line, his depths and his route running. I think some of those routes will be cleaned up. He’s working on it. He’s so receptive to it. Has a ways to go, but he wants to be great. With the talent he has, throw in the desire he has, the work ethic he has, and the sky is the limit."
There's two things that invites chills and goose bumps.
One. An already fantastic receiver with a destiny of greatness has a ceiling much higher than what we saw in 2011. Two. He's coachable. What does that mean? Many players with unimaginable talent tend to ignore coaches, relying entirely on their athleticism. A wide receiver like Green could just use his speed to explode through coverages, or inject a hint of fear that designs softer coverages (anticipating vertical routes). Now with an offseason to develop better routes allows the Bengals to use a greater arsenal with Green applying more hitch or dig routes. A fear of going deep allows Green greater room to work the field, using his athleticism after the reception to avoid tacklers.
We're fairly certain that Green will be the vertical threat for as long as he remains in Cincinnati. Adding to his repertoire greatly benefits. Now defensive backs are aware of his vertical routes, but what happens when he shows he can run any route with great precision as a receiver to Andy Dalton's timing? It makes them think. It even promotes more vertical routes in the long-run because now tape shows that Green will run anything, and he'll do it as a technician in the body of an athletic freak.
In other news, Chuck Norris just made an A.J. Green list.