Elite talent, new contract, finally healthy again – A.J. Green was supposed to put on a show in Oakland this past Sunday. Instead, with the Raiders shadowing the four-time Pro Bowler, Green’s teammate, Tyler Eifert, stepped up in a big way, hauling in nine catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-13 win.
If the Bengals get that kind of production from their tight end, they’re going to be one of the best offenses in the AFC, if not the entire NFL.
“Oh yeah, of course,” Green said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I’ve seen Tyler for a couple years now in practice. He’s been hurt a little bit, but he’s a Pro Bowl tight end, a Hall of Fame tight end if he can stay healthy, man. I saw that from day one. His catching ability, the way he can run routes – he’s a mismatch nightmare every week.”
Green, Eifert, Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard – the weapons for Andy Dalton are limitless.
“I think we can be explosive,” Green said. “I think that’s the mindset of this offense this offseason with all our offensive players healthy. I think that’s the biggest thing. We just got to go out there and play, play loose and play free and let the plays come to us.”
The Bengals have had no problem putting up points and winning games – at least in the regular season. They’ve made the playoffs in five of the last six years but are 0-5 in those games. Even worse, they’ve scored between 10 and 14 points every time out.
What is it about Marvin Lewis, who has an 0-6 career playoff record, that prevents the Bengals from succeeding on the biggest stage?
“He’s a great coach,” Green said. “We just got to get over that hump. It’s nothing he’s doing or nothing he’s not doing. He’s a great coach. We’re the players and we have to play well in big games, and I don’t think we’ve done that so far. We play good in the regular season – we’re going to win 12 games every year – but it’s something about that playoff, we just play so tight. As an offensive leader, I have to make more big plays in those situations in big games so we can actually get on a roll. Last year, I wasn’t able to play in the playoff game (a 26-10 loss in Indianapolis), so I think we just got to be able to play looser in the playoff games. In those big games, I think we play too tight.”
That may be true, but Brandon Tierney and Tiki Barber feel that the window is closing on the Bengals. Young talent only stays young for so long; then it wants to get paid. So do veterans in contract years.
Green, however, said the Bengals don’t feel any added pressure.
“I know we got a lot of free agents coming up next year, so the team may look different or it may not,” he said. “But we’re just living in the moment. We have all the weapons back this year, and I think the sky’s the limit for this offense. This team, our defense played well last week, the offense played well. If we continue to keep getting better each week, the sky’s the limit. A lot of people are not going to talk about our regular season right now. They don’t care how many games we win. It’s all abut that playoff win. If we keep playing like this, I think we’ll be fine.”