May 26, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) walks onto the field during OTAs at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Over the course of the offseason NFL.com has been releasing its “Top 100 Players of 2015” list. This year, thus far, A.J. Green is the only Cincinnati Bengals player to make the list. It’s possible Andrew Whitworth makes the list after having an absolutely dominant year, but given how overlooked he typically is and the fact that Tyron Smith has already been listed, I expect he’ll be overlooked once more.
A.J. Green makes the list at number 37. This after Green was the ninth player overall the year before. The video is a reflection on Green by players from around the league. Give it a look when you get a moment.
Green finished his 2014 campaign with 69 receptions (on 116 targets), 1,041 yards and six touchdowns. He also had the 77-yard game winning catch against the Ravens in Week One, which was only his second longest reception of the year. Green also had an 81-yard touchdown reception against the Steelers in Week 14. It gave the team the lead heading into the fourth quarter where the team was outscored 24-0 and ultimately lost the game.
These stats aren’t bad considering Green essentially missed four games on the year. Although official statistics are correct when saying Green missed three, he essentially missed Week Two (against the Falcons) when he left the game very early on after injuring his toe. These statistics would be impressive for most players, but not for Green, who is rightfully expected to be amongst the league’s best. Green’s 1,041 yards made him only the league’s 20th most prolific receiver, and his 69 catches and six touchdowns fell far short of league leaders Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant respectively.
Thus far this offseason Green has looked impressive and seems ready to take his contract year by storm. As a player who is capable of being the league’s best wide receiver (regardless of how Andy Dalton performs), I wouldn’t be shocked if A.J. Green sets some career highs in 2015; currently his career highs are 98 catches, 1,426 yards and 11 touchdowns, all of which came in 2013 (he also had 11 touchdowns in 2012). It’s true the team will be looking to emphasize the run game, but I wouldn’t expect it to limit to statistical potential of Green having his best year yet.
A.J. Green’s 37th ranking seems fair after suffering a couple of limiting injuries last year. But fans should expect that this type of season will motivate the face of the Bengals’ franchise. A.J. Green is a force to be reckoned with. When the 2016 offseason rolls around, expect Green to return to the Top 10 of this list.