Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green hasn’t gotten off to the fastest start this season.
After catching nine passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener, Green has had 17 catches for 138 yards and one score in the last three games. Those numbers are well below what the Bengals are used to seeing from Green and well below what Green wants to see for himself. During last Sunday’s loss to Cleveland, Green had seven catches for 51 yards and found himself exasperated by the inability to break free for anything longer than a 16-yard gain.
Green said Wednesday that he has noticed that teams are defending him differently this season, doing what they can to force him to run shorter, inside routes and taking away the big plays that he’s made in the past. He admitted to being frustrated by the success defenses have had with that appoach, but said he has to do a better job of dealing with that frustration.
“I have to control my emotions and body language better than I did on Sunday,” Green said, via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “You just have to take a deep breath, relax and let the game come to you. I was pressing. It was a little bad. My arms were flailing and I was all loose out there. I would just press. We were so close and needed to make a play.”
It would be easier to get a handle on emotions if the frustration went away. One of the problems on offense in recent years for the Bengals has been an overreliance on Green to make big plays in the passing game. The Bengals haven’t found another wideout with that capability — Mohamed Sanu is averaging 9.1 yards per catch — and the running game isn’t threatening defenses enough to use play-action to loosen things up, leaving defenses free to prey on Green without too much fear of a big play lurking around the corner.
If things don’t change on those fronts, Green’s likely to have some more frustrating days ahead of him.