CINCINNATI -- With the regular season in its final stages, we'll be examining each Friday through Week 17 what we'd like to see particular players or position groups do with the remainder of the season.
We'll start out by offering four things we'd like to see receiver A.J. Green do over the next four games. Next week, we'll go with three things we'd like to see someone else do in the final three games. Then two, and on down to one thing for one person or position group in the one game that's left. Make sense? Sure it does.
Why Green this week? No reason. I wanted to make him part of the rotation and figured we may as well get to him now.
So, without further ado, here are four things I'd like to see Green do across the final four games:
Get another 100-yard game. It has been almost a month since the Bengals receiver touched the 100-yard mark in receiving (a span of two games). On Nov. 10, he ended up closing out a five-week stretch of 100-yard games when he caught eight passes for 151 yards and a touchdown in Cincinnati's 20-17 overtime loss at Baltimore. It was his last reception of the game, a 51-yard catch off a tipped Hail Mary pass, that pushed him well beyond the milestone mark. Green's stretch of five-straight games with at least 100 yards receiving was a franchise record. In addition to those five games, he also had a 162-yard receiving effort in the Bengals' season-opening loss at Chicago. The Bengals are 3-3 this year in games he's gone over 100 yards. In the two games since playing Baltimore, Green has caught just seven passes for 90 yards.
Have another multi-touchdown game. Because of the Bengals' many offensive weapons, this may be more unlikely than seeing another 100-yard game. When it comes to getting in the end zone, the Bengals have a bevy of options. So it may be tough for Green to repeat the performance he had against Chicago. That's the only time this season that Green has had multiple touchdown receptions (2). Since then, he has scattered an additional five touchdown catches among the other 11 games the Bengals have played.
Stop cutting off deep routes and hanging Dalton out to dry. If you ask Green, this is among his top priorities for the remainder of the season. In parts of the past three games, Green has had his moments when he admittedly has cut off deep routes in an attempt to sink into soft spots in zone coverage. More times than not, those plays have turned into interceptions for Dalton. It happened against Baltimore last month and at San Diego last week. To a different degree, it happened against the Browns a few weeks ago, too, when Green decided to go one way while Dalton was throwing another. Each time, Green has been trying to read the defense and make a play in a spot he thinks Dalton may also be reading. That hasn't always been the case. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has been making an effort the past month or so to get more balls to Green deep downfield. When Green improvises the way he did against the Chargers, Dalton's deep throws can be easily picked off. If Green keeps going on his deep routes, those will turn into long receptions.
Duel Ike Taylor. Much like Cleveland's Joe Haden, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor mostly held Green in check when the Bengals and Steelers played earlier this season. One week after his nine-catch, 162-yard season debut, Green was limited to just six receptions for 41 yards by Taylor and the Steelers. He had just 4 yards after catch. Since Green wasn't able to get Haden back in last month's grudge match, this will be his final chance at redemption against an elite corner before the playoffs begin. When Cincinnati visits Pittsburgh next week, watch for the Green-Taylor matchup.