The Cincinnati Bengals offense had a low year in 2017, including wide receiver A.J. Green. Despite a bad season, Green ranked second in target shares.
Let’s get it out of the way right off the bat. The Cincinnati Bengals offense was terrible last season. The offensive line play was embarrassing, quarterback Andy Dalton was inconsistent, tight end Tyler Eifert was hurt almost the entire season, rookie wide receiver John Ross was never healthy, and receiver Brandon LaFell failed to take any attention off of star wide receiver A.J. Green.
The run game was never established as the Bengals ran the ball for the 29th ranked amount of attempts last season. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor stepped in after the firing of former coordinator Ken Zampese was fired following the first two weeks not scoring a single touchdown. Nothing went right for Cincinnati’s offense last year.
Even by Green’s standards, he had a bad season when you look at his recent years. Yes, that includes before he went down with his injury in 2016. In 2017, Green hauled in 75 passes for 1,078 yards and 8 touchdowns. Most receivers in the NFL would love to put up those numbers but it was still a down year for Green who is arguably among the top receivers in the league.
Despite all of that being said, Green still ranked second in target shares among all NFL receivers last season according to Rich Hribar of Rotoworld. In the chart, you can see that some of that were due to Dalton’s accuracy last season as his catchable target percentage dropped significantly in 2017. Green also reached the lowest catches per game of his career in 2017 since his rookie season with 4.7.
With absolutely zero threat outside of Green last season, defenses shifted to stack and double coverage him last year. Despite all of that, Green still saw the second most target shares among receivers only being beaten by Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
There’s no doubt that Green was frustrated last season with the struggles of the offense. If Cincinnati’s offense was even slightly better last year, I don’t see that fight with Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsy ever taking place. Green is ready to put it behind him and focus on getting the Bengals offense back to its peak this season.
If Eifert can stay healthy, Ross can prove he was worth a top ten pick, and the offensive line can protect Dalton, there’s no reason all of those numbers from last season shouldn’t increase. Not to mention a run game led by second-year running back Joe Mixon behind some blockers for the first time in his short career. I expect Green to get back to being one of the top receivers in the game this season.