I would like to remind you all that the Cincinnati Bengals owned a 4-1 record before they faced the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now they are 5-6. It’s not just because they lost to the Steelers, of course, which has a way of disarming them, but they also suffered a slew of injuries in that game and following.
The latest example is the thumb injury suffered by quarterback Andy Dalton, which has landed him on injured reserve. The move comes just as the Bengals finally get A.J. Green back on the field after missing the past three games.
Dalton may not be an elite quarterback, but he has been good enough to win games in the past, and that’s not the same that can be said for Cincinnati’s new backup, Jeff Driskel, who is, well, just a guy. And not even AJ McCarron, who was substantially overrated in his brief appearance replacing Dalton a few years ago.
With the Bengals in a tailspin and quickly looking at postseason irrelevance for 2018, however, Green wasn’t interested in talk of failure. He’s not even 100 percent fully healthy, but he is coming back from a toe injury following limited practice participation because he cares about his team and wants to help.
“Not happening. Not happening”, he said about the idea of shutting down for the season as it appears to have become lost and allowing his injury to fully heal. “Not happening. Not happening this year. Not happening. Not happening”.
So I guess it’s not happening. But he is actually making a specific reference to two seasons ago, when he was battling another injury. Bengals owner Mike Brown made the decision to shut him down ahead of their Week 16 game even though he felt he was able to return because the season was already lost.
“I’m not going to handle that very well” if it were to happen again, he said. “I’m going to leave that there”.
Up next for the Bengals is the Denver Broncos, who are coming off a pair of big wins against the Los Angeles Chargers and, of course, the Steelers. As they slowly climb back into relevance (and now have the same 5-6 record as Cincinnati), it’s worth remembering that they had the toughest schedule in the league.
“I don’t care what our record was, I was coming back to play again”, Green told reporters. “When you sit out everything is not a given and it puts other things in perspective and don’t take anything for granted. I don’t care if we were 0 and 15 and I have to play the last game of the season. I would just be happy to be back and do whatever it takes to help this team win”.
I know I’ve said this before when writing about Green but I think it’s worth repeating. The Bengals certainly make a lot of questionable personnel decisions in terms of the type of people they choose to employ, but any team would be lucky enough to have a man like him in their locker room and on the field.