A.J. Green's terrific start

The Bengals' receiver, along with Andy Dalton, gives Cincy hope for future

Originally Published: September 24, 2012
By Vince Verhei | Football Outsiders
GreenPaul Frederiksen/US PresswireA.J. Green has gotten off to a fantastic start in his young NFL career.

Most teams like to start the game with a simple running play to pound away at a defense, or a short pass intended to build a quarterback's rhythm and confidence. Either way, the point is often to run a low-risk, low-reward play that will set the stage for second down. But that's not what the Cincinnati Bengals did on their first play Sunday against the Washington Redskins. Instead, they took a rookie wide receiver (Mohamed Sanu, to be specific) and put him at quarterback in a shotgun formation, and then they had him throw the ball as far as he could. It was an aggressive and creative strategy, but they can afford to be aggressive and creative because they have A.J. Green, and Green can make almost any play work -- as he did with that pass from Sanu, taking it to the house for 73-yard touchdown.

Green managed 1,057 receiving yards as a rookie last year. That's good, but not historic, not even making the top 10 for wideouts in league history. However, he seems to have set the bar even higher this year. He finished the Redskins game with 183 yards and now has 311 yards on the season, more than anyone except Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions. That gives Green a total of 1,368 yards through the third game of his second season. Only four other players have ever gotten off to such a hot start to their career.


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