Andy Dalton think AJ Green is the best WR in the NFL. Is Dalton wrong, or should the Bengals WR be a bigger part of the national narrative?
In a postgame interview with Scott Van Pelt on ESPN, Andy Dalton didn’t say much that surprised viewers. For the most part, it was a pretty vanilla interview, recapping the Bengals winning big over the Ravens. However, Van Pelt then asked Dalton about his connection with AJ Green following his 3 TDs in the first half. Dalton was glowing about Green, even calling him the best receiver in the league.
Although this may sound like hyperbole, Green has certainly proven himself once again this season. Because of the flashiness of Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, and Julio Jones, people sometimes neglect Green in the conversation for best receiver in the league. After two straight dominant games, it’s time to revisit what makes Green so great.
In the Ravens game, we saw just how good Green can be in the red zone, where he can really establish his dominance. Green is a better red zone receiver than any of Brown, Beckham, or Jones. On each of his first half touchdowns, Green flashed how dangerous he is.
The first touchdown came from the slot, where Green faced 1-on-1 coverage. The route was very simple – he got halfway into the end zone and turned hard right, allowing Dalton to easily feed him an easy TD catch. Green’s quick feet and acceleration allowed him to run an easy crossing route out of the slot and get big separation, even in the red zone.
On the second touchdown, Green had a phenomenal catch and run from outside the red zone. He caught a pass over the middle from Dalton and broke a tackle before waltzing into the end zone. Green has incredible strength and balance to withstand contact like that, but more generally, he has elite open field speed to generate yards after the catch. This is one of the skills that gets him multiple long touchdowns each year.
On the last touchdown, Green ran what looked like a fade, but became a buttonhook. After feigning like he was going to the back corner, he turned around and just bodied out the Ravens’ corner, creating yet another easy touchdown pass. Because Green has an insane ability to high point the ball and tap his feet on the sideline, the goal line fade is a great weapon. However, when he can pivot just as easily and create separation underneath, he becomes nearly impossible to stop.
It’s definitely possible that Green is not the best receiver in the league. Although he’s certainly qualified, there are a lot of other strong candidates. Green, though, might just be the best red zone receiver in the NFL, and the Baltimore game proved just that.