Bengals’ AJ McCarron Valuable Piece Of The Puzzle

Dec 13, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 13, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

AJ McCarron has become a fan favorite in Cincinnati. On the heels of trade rumors, Bengals director of player personnel is open about AJ’s importance.

The Cincinnati Bengals made their last run for the Super Bowl with odds stacked against them. When they played the infamous January 9 Wild Card Game at Paul Brown Stadium, Andy Dalton was looking on from the sidelines. AJ McCarron had been pressed into action after Dalton failed in his impression of a linebacker. McCarron began his tour of duty in Week 14 of the 2015 campaign. Bengals fans found out how important he was, during the last three weeks of the season. He was the puzzle piece that made the difference.

Now, as the offseason slowly kicks into gear, his importance will surely become more evident. Not too long after the Bengals played the 2016 season finale, McCarron emerged as a hot trade commodity. During that three-week stretch in 2015, McCarron managed to go 2-1 for the Bengals. This happened as he was tossed into the fire without many reps with the first team offense in practice. 

McCarron entered the Week 14 battle with the Steelers and performed admirably. The Bengals’ backup completed 22-of-32 passes and burned Pittsburgh for 280 yards. His rating for the day was a sparkling 90.6, while Ben Roethlisberger finished the game with an 85.6 mark. Not bad for coming off the bench cold. Needless to say, McCarron became the darling of Cincinnati.

The Duke Says So

Bengals’ director of player personnel, Duke Tobin, has reinforced what many fans have been saying. McCarron is a huge piece of the scheme in Cincinnati. Tobin expressed his thoughts, per The Cincinnati Enquirer.

"“AJ’s done a really good job of taking advantage of the opportunities he’s been given. AJ’s a competitor. AJ wants to be a starting quarterback. Those are traits that you want to see in a guy. You don’t want guys that are content with their role if it’s not as big as what it could be. AJ is used to the big stage, and when he got on it, he produced. So he’s become a very valuable piece of our team. Even though you don’t see him on the field that much, he’s become an extremely valuable piece of our team.” More from Bengals News6 Bengals whose stock significantly rose in preseason game vs Cardinals7 winners and 7 losers from Bengals preseason opener vs. CardinalsJackson Carman winning LG job isn’t a given after Bengals preseason openerDenzel Ward wants to flex on Bengals WRs in 2022Scouting the enemy: Bengals preseason opener chat with Raising Zona"

There it is. The plain truth. McCarron has always been an important cog in the Bengals’ engine. But, it was never said with such flair and eloquence. If Tobin were Fred Flintstone, his exact words would be, “Yabba-Dabba-Doo!”

AJ Ain’t Mad

Now, with the offseason coming and teams looking for a better the average signal caller, things may suddenly change for the Bengals. Marvin Lewis and Co. are looking for more players to fill the void at certain positions. Suddenly, McCarron’s trade value has skyrocketed. There’s the distinct possibility that McCarron won’t be in Bengals’ stripes when training camp opens. But he’s ready for that possibility.

"“I definitely wouldn’t be distraught at all. Like I told Marvin and all my coaches in my exit meetings, I appreciate everybody in this organization. I really do. From the bottom of my heart. They gave me a chance when a lot of people wouldn’t. They all treated me unbelievably and I really do care for every one of ‘em and respect all ‘em. This place will always have a special place in my heart just for what they’ve done for me. I really appreciated it.”"

Next: Bengals Shine At Pro Bowl

Seeing McCarron in another set of colors would be a severe insult to lots of Bengals fans. Super Bowl LI is already going to be the showcase for three former Bengals players. After the big losses of Mohamed Sanu, Reggie Nelson, and Marvin Jones, the hemorrhaging has to end. McCarron wants a shot at starting for another team…but his home should be in the Nati.