The Bengals need a vintage performance from Raven Killer A.J. Green

A.J. Green
A.J. Green /

As the Cincinnati Bengals take on the Ravens, they’ll need A.J. Green, who has historically had great success against Baltimore, to get back on track.

A.J. Green was supposed to return from his year and a half injury-riddled hiatus to help Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals enter a new era. Unfortunately, one-quarter of the way into the 2020 campaign, and the seven-time Pro Bowler looks like a shell of his former self.

Despite being targeted often, Green has come away with just 119 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. Back in the day, eclipsing 100 yards receiving was an every week occurrence. Now? Not so much.

For comparison’s sake, the guys who were meant to take the second and third roles in the wide receiving corps. are outperforming Green. Tyler Boyd has more than doubled his production, reeling in a touchdown and 320 receiving yards to go with it. Rookie Tee Higgins has comparable receiving yards (152) but has hauled in a pair of touchdown passes.

So what happened to the Bengals legend? Is it rust? Is he just on the wrong side of 30? That’s what Zac Taylor and the offensive coaching staff are attempting to figure out. One thing is for certain, if they are to upset the Baltimore Ravens this week, they’ll need to find a way to get more out of Green.

A.J. Green AKA the “Raven Killer”

Looking back on A.J. Green’s career thus far, some of his best performances came against the Bengals’ bitter AFC North rivals. He’s torched Baltimore enough to earn the title “Raven Killer” and to draw this quote from their man at the helm, John Harbaugh,

"“One of these days, we’ll figure out how to cover A.J. Green. It’d be nice if we did it one time before he retires.”"

Harbaugh’s frustration spilled over back in 2015 after Green came away with 10 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns, enough to secure the week three victory.

Funnily enough, Green had a similarly disappointing start to that season as well before finding his form. Leading up to the divisional clash, he had 108 receiving yards through two weeks and a single touchdown.

The former Georgia Bulldog found his footing against the Ravens back then, can he do the same in 2020?

The Ravens’ secondary presents a tall task for A.J. Green

Baltimore’s secondary in 2015 was certainly formidable, as it fielded a duo of Jimmy Smith and Ladarius Webb. However, that iteration of the Ravens’ is nothing compared to the juggernaut they are now.

Now, defensive coordinator Don Martindale has a pair of all-pros lined up on each side, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Both are bigger corners, capable of matching up against Green’s 6’4 frame.

From what we’ve seen from Green so far this season, it seems like an insurmountable task, but he does have a number of factors working in his favor.

For starters, Joe Burrow is throwing to him instead of Andy Dalton. That’s no knock on Dalton, but Burrow has already proven himself as special, even at the NFL level, and has often shown his laser accuracy.

Not to mention, Green may not be the focus of the defensive gameplan any longer. Joe Mixon just had a hat trick last week, rushing for 151 yards and hauling in six passes to go with it. He’ll certainly demand the bulk of the attention from Baltimore.

Don’t forget about the previously mentioned Boyd and Higgins either. Both are ascending and present unique challenges.

A year and a half absence and four weeks worth of quiet performances may be enough to cause the Ravens to forget what Green is capable of. Don’t be surprised if he’s able to remind them in week five. The Bengals may need a vintage A.J. Green performance if they’re going to pull off the upset.

Next. Tyler Boyd has definitively solidified himself as WR1. dark