A.J. Green: Shut him down, shut him down, whisper words of wisdom, shut him down
Halfway through the 2019 NFL season, the 0-8 Cincinnati Bengals would be smart to shut-down receiver A.J. Green and allow an uncomfortable situation to resolve in the offseason.
The 2019 season has not been kind to the Cincinnati Bengals, who currently sit in dead last in the NFL at 0-8, and the last remaining winless team in the league. Last week, on the last day of the trade deadline, the Bengals announced that nine-year starter, Andy Dalton, would be benched in favor of 4th round rookie, Ryan Finley. This was the indication that this season isn’t about winning football games anymore but evaluating players for future success. Now that future success is the primary goal, it’s time to sit A.J. Green for the remainder of the season.
Earlier this week, when asked about the availability of Green, head coach Zac Taylor said Green would play this week. Green was less optimistic but left the door open for the return. That was until Thursday when that door was slammed closed after reports came out that Green’s ankle was swelling and he wasn’t able to feel a full range of motion in it. Green spoke to the media and made it clear that he wasn’t worried about contract negotiations, that there are 32 teams out there and recovering was his number one priority.
A.J. is absolutely right. This is the moment where Jon Taffer from Bar Rescue, should walk into the Bengals facility and loudly proclaim to “SHUT IT DOWN”. Why should superstar wide receiver, A.J. Green risk re-injuring his foot by coming back to an 0-9 team with a rookie quarterback auditioning to be a part of the Bengals future? The Bengals didn’t trade Green at the trade deadline because it became clear that Green was still a part of their future.
At this point in the season, the best thing the team could do for their long term success is to collect as many losses as possible. Whether you think Tua or Burrow can be a franchise quarterback or if you believe drafting a defensive monster like Chase Young is the answer, the best thing to do is put yourself in a situation to get to decide who the bright spot will be to for this gloomy franchise. Shutting Green down helps this strategy, ensuring that the team doesn’t stumble into a win or two because of Green’s talents. Especially with key games against the Jets and Dolphins, who each has just one more win than the Bengals and will decide how the cards ultimately fall.
The Bengals should leave the bad medical decisions to the Washington Redskins. Front offices, media members, and players everywhere are seeing what a joke of a situation the Redskins just put their Pro Bowl tackle, Trent Williams, through. The Bengals do not want to risk a similar situation. Green has shown interest in re-signing with Cincinnati, so the number one priority for the organization should be not to push for Green to play in meaningless games, but rather to sit him for the rest of the season and focus on the long-term relationship. If this situation were to go completely south, where Green feels pressure to return and then re-injures his foot worse, a fragile relationship would be broken and Green potentially walks in the summer for nothing.
A.J. Green fantasy owners hoping to make a playoff push will strongly disagree with me on this one, but there is absolutely no reason to have Green step foot on the field this season. Even if the team and Green couldn’t come to an agreement on an extension and he walks in the offseason, shutting him down would be doing right by him.
Green said it best on Thursday, “Everybody knows what I can do when I’m healthy.” He’s absolutely right. The organization putting a terrible product on the field is one thing, but ruining a relationship with a player like Green and even possibly a career over meaningless snaps is inexcusable.