The Cincinnati Bengals have always been a team defined by questions. For the Bengals' new quarterback—known as Andy Dalton, Big Red or even "rookie"—the question is whether he is defined by his own legacy. The answer through the 2011 season—going into Week 17—is decidedly no.
While Dalton has brought back the consistency which was lost when Carson Palmer snapped his ACL and MCL in the playoffs (becoming a carnival-booth passer in the process), success hinges on his dynamic targets as much as his calm consistency.
As a fact of the matter, Andy Dalton needs A.J. Green, though Green does not need Dalton. This certainly bodes well for Green when his rookie contract expires. Luckily for Dalton, Green gives him the opportunity to learn and mature on the job, without the pressure of a still-emerging ownership which showed inconsistent maturity in the 2011 campaign.
Add in rookie offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, and the Bengals truly have had a blessed season of sorts.
The duo of Dalton and Green were the first rookie combination to have 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same year.
Add that to a receiving core that lost its top rookie receiver from the prior year (Jordan Shipley) and received continued subpar performances from Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson (despite his acrobatic touchdown that will likely sell a few thousand highlight tapes), and you have the makings of true stardom in A.J. Green.
Add in the fact that Green is considered "quiet and unassuming," (as quoted from the Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy) and you have everything that the Bengals were not for the last 10 years.
For one, you do not have a quarterback that needs his brother to be his keeper (Carson and unemployed, subpar quarterback, Jordan), nor a Spike TV distraction in has-been receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
It is worth noting that while Owens could be considered a physical specimen on par with Green, both he and Ochocinco were too much of liabilities to bring back to Cincinnati. TO, even after a national television workout, garnered absolutely no interest from any professional football franchise.
Dalton may have garnered the headlines, but Green deserves them more.