Bengals must adjust without Green
CINCINNATI — Offensive coordinators enjoy drawing up creative plays. They live in a world of finding unique ways to misdirect defenders and use different personnel to free up big plays.
But Bill Lazor of the Cincinnati Bengals did not enjoy having to get creative after A.J. Green’s toe injury.
“I didn’t think of the word fun," Lazor said with a smile and laugh. “I think I’d rather have him.”
Offense without Green isn’t as fun, but it is life for the Bengals right now. After Sunday, every opening-day skill position player except Tyler Boyd, C.J. Uzomah and Andy Dalton will have been inactive for at least one game.
“Every time we’ve lost someone, we’ve tried to be creative to pick up the slack and get the next guys to help us move on,” Lazor said. “It’s kind of happened a few times this year already. This is football and it keeps moving, the most important thing is long term we have to keep getting better.”
That starts with necessary Receiver Tyler Boyd is one of the few Bengals skill-position players who have not missed time due to injuries this season.
development from a group of young receivers that haven’t built on promising training camp and preseason. John Ross, Josh Malone, Cody Core, Alex Erickson and Auden Tate will be asked to help plug the hole left by Green.
The five have combined for 19 receptions for 165
yards and two touchdowns, both by Ross. They’ve been urged to step into the spotlight through the first half of the season playing alongside Green and Boyd.
“It’s hard when you got two guys who are playing out of their mind,” Ross said. “You have A.J. who is going to be A.J. every single
year. You have Tyler Boyd who has blossomed to be one of the best receivers in this league. It’s hard for Andy to actually say 'I’m going to get the ball to everyone.'”
From Lazor’s perspective, he’s remained focus on letting the plays stand for themselves and not worry as much about who is running them. Even though you play to the strength of your personnel, on game day, there’s a certain trust that has to be part of every call.
“I’m totally confident because that’s how you have to live,” Lazor said. “If you are calling the play you can’t have any doubt in your mind. You call every play like it’s going to work. So, it’s just like the opening game of the year when we had everyone. You do the same thing. Call every play like it’s going to work. You have to believe in it because maybe they feel what you believe. You have to put that in your mind.”
The last time Dalton played without Green was the final six games of the 2016 season. His yards per attempt dropped from 8.1 with Green to 7.37 without. Dalton’s passer rating only saw a negligible difference.
“You’re losing the best player on our team,” Dalton said. “Just from the start, you never want that to happen. The coverages may be different because he’s not out there. We’ll have to see the plan and what teams are going to do now with him not out there, and we’ll have to adjust.”