It’s funny what losing can do to a team. Even the least outspoken players get frustrated with gameplans, their role and other facets. This has particularly been the case with the Cincinnati Bengals and their track record of so many losing seasons and/or heartbreaking endings.
This team has had its share of flamboyant, yet talented wide receivers. Carl Pickens, Darnay Scott, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and A.J. Green are guys that all top that list, with the latter being quite the solid citizen. Given the Bengals’ 0-2 start—the first in the Andy Dalton era—questions abound on where the blame is to be placed.
If one thing is for sure, Green isn’t the problem with the offense right now. The “anti-Chad,” who has always toed the company line, finally sounds like he is at the end of his rope, after the Bengals lost their second straight at home to the Houston Texans, 13-9.
Frustrated AJ Green says "I feel like I could have made a lot of plays in the game if I were given opportunities" @WLWT #Bengals pic.twitter.com/gne4wqwbXs— Mark Slaughter (@MarkVSlaughter) September 15, 2017
To the criticism of some and the applauding of others, the Bengals decided to go with flash over substance this year. They allowed Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler to leave in free agency, but added John Ross, Joe Mixon, Josh Malone at the skill positions. They also re-signed veteran Brandon LaFell, who had a nice season for the Bengals in 2016.
The Bengals’ best offensive player has had an inauspicious start to 2017, despite the additions and being in the second year of Ken Zampese’s offense, which led to his firing on Friday.
In two regular season games, Green has just 10 catches for 141 yards and zero touchdowns. That goose egg in the touchdown column should sound familiar, as the team hasn’t cracked the end zone since the 2016 season finale.
For reference, Cincinnati’s brain trust signed Green to a mega-deal last offseason. So, he’s not going anywhere, in case you’re wondering if his rantings are leading to the ways of Pickens and Johnson. Still, it’s a difficult pill to swallow when one of your team leaders, yet soft-spoken guys, talks about the team's’ issues, especially when he even mentions the quarterback.
“We can live with Andy (Dalton) missing a throw here and there, but we have to be able to get our playmakers the ball in crunch time. That’s it. That’s what it comes down to,” said Green, via Geoff Hobson’s Bengals.com. “We’re not doing that.”
Green’s assessment is a culmination of a number of factors. The offensive line is a mess, leading Andy Dalton to either run for his life or miss throws that are open on the rare occasion he has protection, while the running game is, for a lack of better words, “meh.”
Still, the game plan from Zampese has to come under fire, which is why Bill Lazor is now calling the shots. With so many weapons at the skill positions, one may be inclined to think that Dalton should be able to overcome the offensive line shortcomings to quickly get the ball to said weapons, But, it isn’t happening.
Green, ever the politician, defended his beleaguered quarterback.
“He’s not struggling; he’s just had bad breaks. It’s a lot of things,” Green said, via Hobson. “I think Andy is playing well.”
It’s an interesting take, given the fact Dalton has forced throws, albeit because of some of the line play. For instance, Dalton launched a deep ball to Green on Thursday night for a 50-yard gain, but the Pro Bowler only had 17 more yards on four other catches.
It’s good to see the team is at least trying something different with Lazor replacing Zampese, but given the issues we’ve seen, it’s hard to see this solving all of this team’s offensive deficiencies, at least right away.