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A.J. Green vs Chad Johnson: Who comes out on top?

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Nov 14, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) catches a touchdown pass against New York Giants corner back Janoris Jenkins (20) and New York Giants safety Landon Collins (21) during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 14, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) catches a touchdown pass against New York Giants corner back Janoris Jenkins (20) and New York Giants safety Landon Collins (21) during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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A.J. Green is one of the best receivers the Bengals have ever had. While he is certainly a franchise cornerstone, how does he compare to Chad Johnson?

A.J. Green is undoubtedly one of the best receivers in the NFL. He routinely goes over 1,000 yards per season, catches over ten touchdowns, and is a fantasy football favorite. While Green has been a fantastic asset to the Bengals in his career thus far, how does he stack up against another fan favorite receiver: Chad Johnson.

Everyone in Cincinnati remembers receiver Chad Johnson. The flamboyant receiver was a key part of the team returning to prominence in the 2000s. Known as much for his celebrations as his big plays, Johnson is indeed one of the best receivers in Bengals history. Johnson was a big deal in his heyday but was he actually better than Green?

Statistical Comparison

Johnson’s career statistics are indeed impressive. Playing with the Bengals from 2001-2010 he has seven 1,000 yard seasons including one in which he amassed 1,440 yards. His best season for receptions and yards came in 2007 when he caught 93 passes. As far as touchdowns go, his best season was 2003 when he scored 10. Johnson did have a few rough years with the Bengals, however. His rookie season of 2001, he caught just 28 passes for 329 yards and a single touchdown. One of his other lesser seasons was 2008 when injuries cost him a few games and he finished with 53 catches for 540 yards and four touchdowns.

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A.J. Green has been a producer for the Bengals’ offense since his rookie season in 2011. He started his career off with a bang, catching 65 passes for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns. He continued this pace for the next five years reaching 1,000 receiving yards in all but the 2016 season in which he didn’t play for six games and was still just 36 yards from 1,000. His best season thus far was in 2013 when he caught 98 passes for 1,426 yards and eleven touchdowns.

Johnson and Green’s stats are fairly comparable although Green started out faster. Both have multiple 1,000-yard seasons with Johnson accumulating seven and Green having five. Johnson’s highest yardage total in a season was greater than Green’s (1,440 to 1,426), but Johnson has had fewer double-digit touchdown seasons than Green (1 to 3). When taking just the first six years of Johnson’s career to match Green’s only six years in the league, Green has the advantage.

Johnson: 466 receptions for 6,925 yards and 41 touchdowns

Green: 481 receptions for 7,135 yards and 49 touchdowns.

Franchise Importance

It’s possible to argue that during the 2000s there was no player more integral to reviving Bengals football than Chad Johnson. After the dismal Bengals teams in the 90s, fans were looking for someone or something to return the team to its former glory. That person was Chad Johnson. Johnson’s explosive playmaking with his light-hearted antics put the Bengals back on the map at least as a team that was interesting. Though many of his touchdown celebrations and other shenanigans culminated in fines from the league office, Johnson was always a fun player to watch, especially when he made it into the end zone. While Johnson was important to the Bengals’ rebuilding, his presence only led to two playoff appearances and no wins. Additionally, he was often labeled as a distraction and by the end of his career, he had some baggage.

A.J. Green has been a model citizen since he arrived in Cincinnati. He lacks the showboating attitude that same other top wide receivers possess and prefers to let his play speak for itself. Ever since his rookie season, Green has been a major contributor on offense and added an explosive element to the passing game. He has been one of the players responsible for the team’s revitalization after the end of the Carson Palmer era. Without Green, the Bengals’ offense wouldn’t have much in terms of firepower. Going forward, much of the Bengals success will most likely hinge on Green.

Results

Unfortunately, neither player has taken the Bengals past the first round of the playoffs. Johnson ended his Bengals career with two playoff appearances but no victories. He was selected to six Pro Bowls and holds eight Bengals franchise records. Green has gone to the playoffs with Cincinnati five of his six seasons but has also come up empty thus far. He also has six Pro Bowl selections to his name in as many seasons.

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For two of the franchise’s best receivers, the comparison shows how close they are in statistics and importance. Johnson was the face of the franchise in the 2000s and Green picked up the torch just as Johnson left the team. Assuming A.J. Green continues to play as he has been, he will most likely end his career with better numbers than Johnson. Hopefully, he can do one thing that Chad was never able to: win in the playoffs.

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