CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green would prefer to leave 2017 behind.
The statistics of his season won’t ever quite tell the story: 16 starts, 75 receptions, 1,078 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. Many wide receivers might consider that a solid year, but Green thought it stunk.
“My stats were crummy,” he said. “I’m never one to put my personal stats up front, I just go out there and play.”
Green said he knows he can’t let the frustration overcome him as it did at times last year. For a man who prefers actions over words, he probably talked more last year than he ever wished.
A.J. Green had 75 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns last season but called his stats “crummy.” Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire
There was the time he told reporters the team was “playing like s—” after a Thursday night loss in Week 2. He clearly wasn’t the only one who thought so, as the tension simmering in the locker room that night after a 13-9 loss to the Texans was palpable. Offensive coordinator Ken Zampese was fired the next morning.
Green also had to issue an embarrassed apology after he was ejected for fighting with Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey later in the season.
“There will be years like that,” Green said. “Just got to, don’t get as frustrated, stay true to who I am, and continue to play. … It was a frustrating year for me personally, just not playing the way I need to play, or whatever it was. I wasn’t focused last year like I was [in] previous years.”
Green is normally the most reliable player the Bengals have on offense, but for whatever reason, things weren’t clicking with him — or anyone else — last season. Passes he normally would have caught bounced off his fingers and into defenders’ arms. Deep passes from quarterback Andy Dalton just didn’t connect.
“The deep ball definitely is one of the things we need to focus on,” Green said. “We left a lot of plays out there. … It [was] a combination of everything. We just have to put everything together.”
Along with a new system from offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, Green will also have a new wide receivers coach for the first time in his NFL career, something he thinks will give energy to the offense.
“I was blessed to have [James Urban] for my first seven years and really have no change to the offense,” Green said. “This is going to be a challenge. I’m ready for that.”