The woeful Cincinnati Bengals have a few bright spots on their team. Wide receiver, A.J. Green has been one of those bright spots for the past eight years. Green’s career has hit a bit of a snag though.
Last season, the star receiver played in just nine games because of injuries. He finished the season with just 46 receptions, 694 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. As a result, he missed the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.
The Bengals themselves are also in trouble. The Cleveland Browns climbed out of the basement of the AFC North last season and Cincinnati took their place at the bottom of the division. With Pittsburgh reloading with new stars and Baltimore reigning as division champions, the Bengals are falling behind.
2019 is an important season for the Bengals and Green. Both need to show they are capable of performing at higher levels than they’ve reached in the past two or three seasons. Green can help his team out significantly by having a great season.
With that in mind, these are the three numbers he should target in 2019.
3. 10 receiving touchdowns
The Bengals finished 17th in the league in points scored last season with 368. While a lot of things need to change to bring that number up, Green is capable of playing a large role in that change.
For instance, if he scored ten touchdowns instead of six in 2018 and the Bengals converted every extra point attempt, the team would have tied for 12th in scoring. Out of the top 12 scoring teams in the league, only three didn’t make the playoffs. Two of those teams were the Atlanta Falcons and the Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom were still strong teams.
That’s how much of a difference Green could make by reaching ten touchdowns, assuming the rest of the offense continues to perform at its 2018 level.
It’s also worth noting that the Bengals made the playoffs every season where Green recorded ten or more touchdowns.
The team was eliminated in the Wild Card round every time, but that’s still better than sitting at the bottom of the division.
2. 90 receiving yards per game
Green has only averaged 90 or more receiving yards per game once in his career. That year was 2016.
Even though he appeared in just ten games that season, Green still made the Pro Bowl because he racked up 964 receiving yards before landing on IR. If he had finished out the season and continued averaging 96.4 yards per game, Green would have finished with 1,542 receiving yards. He would have topped T.Y. Hilton‘s 1,448 yards for the league’s receiving crown.
In 2016, only Green, Hilton, and Julio Jones posted more than 90 receiving yards per game. Six players accomplished the feat in 2018. With the way the league is trending, Green has to get back over that 90-yard mark if he wants to remain in the discussion for being one of the league’s elite receivers.
Looking even farther down the line, if Green wants a shot at the Hall of Fame, he’ll need to start posting bigger numbers.
There are plenty of receivers posting huge yardage totals and the Bengals receiver will get buried under them if he doesn’t elevate his numbers.
1. 16 games played
Within the last three seasons, Green has dealt with his fair share of injuries. In 2016, he played in just ten games.
The sad thing is, that was also Green’s best season to date. He was averaging career highs in receptions and yards per game. He put together a full season in 2017 but averaged the lowest yards per game total of his career.
And this all culminated in Green appearing in Weeks 1 through 8 last season before sitting out until Week 13. Green attempted to return and finish out the season, but he was pulled from the game very early on.
In the four seasons that Green played all 16 games, Cincinnati is a combined 40-24. That’s a 62.5 winning percentage. In the seasons where Green didn’t play every game, the Bengals are 31-31-2.
The team is obviously better when their star receiver is available and fully healthy.