Dunne: Bengals Could Surprise In 2018

The AFC is up for grabs, Tyler Dunne says, and the Bengals could contend following two disappointing seasons

The DA Show
August 16, 2018 - 11:53 am

USA Today Images

Since entering the NFL in 2011, A.J. Green has been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. The former fourth overall pick has made seven Pro Bowls in seven seasons and led the Bengals to the playoffs five times.

The Bengals’ record in those games? 0-5. 

As great as Green is, might he be frustrated with quarterback Andy Dalton? Especially following two sub-.500 seasons?

“I think a little bit,” Bleacher Report NFL columnist Tyler Dunne said on The DA Show. “Seven years together, you’re going to get sick of each other at one point, even if you’re winning – and these guys haven’t won a playoff game. Andy Dalton said there are times behind the scenes when Green does ask for the ball, and he says he likes it. Green says, ‘Yeah, there’s probably times he gets mad at me and I get and at him, but we know this is the situation, and we make the best of it.’ 

“I think this could be that potential breaking point,” Dunne continued, “because they see the talent they did in 2015 when they started 8-0. Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Joe Mixon – they’ve got a lot of firepower around A.J. Green now. Spending a week at that training camp, this is a team that could legitimately contend. That’s how they’re viewing it. If they have another 7-9 season, maybe they are going at it. Maybe that is the breaking point.”

Green, in truth, may have reached his breaking point last season when he got into a Week 9 fight with Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey.

“That was the first time he lost that perspective,” Dunne said. “He was in the middle of a bad year, having a bad game. One more year could do that. I think that now more than ever, he’s trying to remember what drives him every day. His workouts are insane. He’s pushing trucks, he’s running up steep hills up 50 yards, he’s doing 400 reps of ab work to start it off – this guy takes everything to the next level.”

The Bengals went 7-9 last year and have finished third in the AFC North two years in a row. Still, Dunne believes the Bengals could surprise some people in 2018.

“It sure appears that way,” he said. “And, guilty as charged, I went to Cincinnati’s training camp after Buffalo’s training camp. So you go from watching Nathan Peterman, Josh Allen and AJ McCarron to Andy Dalton, maybe the perception was a little skewed. But they looked really good. A.J. Green, watching him work is must-see. It’s unbelievable what he can do in terms of going deep one moment, toasting a guy six yards in his dust, running 10 yards, coming to a complete stop on a stop-route to burn somebody – this is a 6-4, 6-5 guy who can run routes like a 5-10 guy.”

Add Boyd, Ross and Mixon into the mix, and you’ve got the trappings of a dangerous offense.

“It’s all there,” Dunne said. “Part of the reason I’m so optimistic too is this division is not strong. The Steelers have a lot of drama going on. The AFC in general is up for grabs. The Bengals could be that team that kind of sneaks up on everybody. That’s what Andy Dalton said. He said, ‘Nobody’s talking about us right now, and we kind of like that. We think we can really sneak up on folks.’”

The Bengals play three of their first four games on the road, beginning with a Week 1 date with the Colts in Indy on Sept. 9. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.