Arizona Cardinals A.J. Green could bounce back big
By Kyler Burd
Let’s discuss a fairly radical idea. A.J. Green could be the Arizona Cardinals leading receiver over the first five to six weeks of the 2021 season.
The dissenting voices can be heard loud and clear. “But isn’t DeAndre Hopkins on the team? Isn’t A.J. Green past his prime?”
Of course, the answer to both is yes. DeAndre Hopkins is the Arizona Cardinals superstar wide receiver and A.J. Green has shown a notable decline in production over the last three seasons. However, there is good reason to believe that the addition of Green is exactly what the Cardinals offense needs.
DeAndre Hopkins is undeniably fantastic, and as such was one of the most double-covered receivers in the NFL last season. It is likely that trend will continue in 2021 and opposing defenses will put multiple bodies on Hopkins.
Cardinals GM Steve Keim has stated that he expects Green to line up on the side opposite of Hopkins. azcardinals.com
With more eyes on Hopkins, Green will be left facing single coverage for at least the first few weeks of the season. With Murray slinging the ball, a more accurate and dynamic quarterback than either Andy Dalton or Joe Burrow, Green will be give plenty of opportunities to showcase the talent that he has been known for throughout his career.
Putting the last two seasons aside, one due to injury and the other to an uninspired team and a desire to leave Cincinnati, Green has consistently been an elite receiver in this league. Two of his most notable traits are something the Arizona Cardinals offense was missing in 2020.
Since 2011, only two players have had more receptions of 20+ yards and none have converted those passes into more touchdowns. His deep-ball ability has been one of his trademarks and though he is nearing 32 and naturally slowing due to age, the deep-ball ability is something he still possesses.
Since 2016, Green has caught 39 of 75 contested balls, a rate that ranks him among the NFL’s elite. Although the Cardinals fared better in the red-zone last season than they did in 2019, Green’s big body and hands are still some of the best in that part of the field.
During the first few weeks of the season, before opposing defenses catch on and pay a bit more attention to him, Green has the potential to do real damage on the other side of Hopkins. Don’t be surprised if he is the Arizona Cardinals leading receiver through Week 6 in 2021.