If Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is, as reported, trying to show that he deserves a head-coaching job, he has a funny way of showing it: By ignoring his team’s best offensive playmaker in a playoff game.
Through the first half of the Bengals’ wild card playoff game against the Texans, not a single pass has been thrown to Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown 10 first-half passes: Five to tight end Jermaine Gresham, three to receiver Marvin Jones and two to running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Obviously, that’s not just about Gruden’s game plan: It’s also about Dalton (who’s having a bad first half) and about Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph (who’s having a good first half). But whatever the reasons, it’s just plain weird that in their biggest game of the season, the Bengals aren’t getting the ball to their best player. When they took over at their own 40-yard line with seconds remaining in the first half, they didn’t even try to throw a deep ball to Green and see if he could go up and make a play. Instead they simply took a knee, content to go into the locker room down 9-7 at halftime.
Through 30 minutes, the Bengals’ only points came from cornerback Leon Hall, who ran back an interception for a touchdown. If the Bengals want to win this game, they need to score some offensive points. And that means getting the ball to Green.