When it comes to certain positions, the AFC North is certainly gifted. The division contains two of the great left tackles in the game, to be certain, with a third possibly developing in Baltimore. But even the greatness of that position is overshadowed by the exceptional pair of All-Pro wide receivers in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
For the second time this season, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green went off, catching 10 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown last night against the fairly hapless Dolphins, in yet another Thursday Night game in which the road team on a short week got crushed—a fact the league doesn’t really seem to mind.
On the season, Green now has 32 receptions through four games for 468 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 14.6 yards per reception. He is currently averaging eight receptions for 117 yards per game, and a touchdown every other game, which would put him on a pace for roughly 128 catches for 1872 yards and eight touchdowns.
While the scoring ratio is nothing to lose sleep over, his averages are fairly remarkable, especially when you consider the fact that he was effectively shut down in Week Two against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which he was followed around by Ross Cockrell. He had just two receptions for 38 yards on the day, which was the worst performance of his career in which he played for the majority of the game.
Although it’s a terrible thing for Pittsburgh, it is a great thing for the game to see Green healthy and on the top of his game, as he is clearly one of the bright stars at the wide receiver position right now, and the fact that he has been clean off the field—and on a team in which that might not necessarily be so easy—is an added bonus.
The former top-five draft pick has certainly lived up to the billing. Into his sixth season, in now 80 games played, he has caught 447 passes for 6639 yards, averaging 14.9 yards per reception, with 47 receiving touchdowns. He has recorded at least 10 touchdowns in three of his first five seasons.
For the moment, at least, Green’s 468 receiving yards leads the league, though of course the Bengals are currently one of only two teams who have played four games. his 32 receptions are one more than Jarvis Landry, who, obviously has had the same four-game opportunity, given that he is on the Dolphins.
His eight plays of at least 20 yards is second only to Marvin Jones of the Lions, who also leads the league in receiving yards per game, and is only 60 yards behind Green in total receiving yards. He is one of three players with at least three plays of 40 or more yards, and his 18 first-down receptions also leads the league.
I can’t even imagine what sort of career arc Andy Dalton would have had had he not come with Green into this league as a group package.