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During the decade of the 2000’s, the Bengals had one of the league’s best wide receivers with Chad Johnson OchoCinco Johnson.

Johnson entered the league without a lot of hype, as he only played one year of Division 1 football with Oregon State, accumulating 37 receptions. His combine was also rather unspectacular, running a 4.57 second 40 yard dash with a 33 inch vertical jump, and measuring at 6’1” and 192 pounds.

As a result, seven other wide receivers were drafted in 2001 ahead of him: David Terrell, Koren Robinson, Rod Gardner, Santana Moss, Freddie Mitchell, Reggie Wayne, and Quincy Morgan.

After spending his rookie season of 2001 in a reserve role with the Bengals, his career took off with six consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, which included five Pro Bowls and a pair of first team All Pro selections. In 2006 he led the NFL with 1,369 receiving yards, on 87 receptions, and with seven touchdowns.

His peak coincided with a resurgence in interest, and on-field success for the Bengals. After a decade of dormancy, the Bengals climb from the cellar of the NFL coincided with Johnson’s career arc. Johnson was the master of footwork, with his quick, nimble feet seemingly always able to stay in bounds on sideline throws, and deceive defenders on his routes, allowing him to get separation.

Johnson’s silly touchdown antics and even his name change, and re-change, were tolerated and even enjoyed by many Bengals fans, who were pretty excited to have a team worth watching, and a great player too.

Johnson played 11 seasons in the NFL, including 10 in Cincinnati. He finished his career with 766 career receptions, 11,059 yards, and 67 touchdowns. He is a fringe Hall of Fame candidate, although likely behind former Bengals Willie Anderson, Ken Anderson, and Ken Riley in the list of Bengals deserving of enshrinement in Canton.
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A decade after Johnson entered the league, the Bengals drafted another great wide receiver. This time, it was a highly regarded 6’4” A.J. Green from football powerhouse Georgia. Green joined the Bengals via the 2011 NFL draft, as the first wide receiver selected, just ahead of fellow SEC product Julio Jones.

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey will not be suspended for their fight in Sunday’s game, the league announced Monday. Both players will face potential fines for their role in the fight.

The minimum fine for fighting, first offense, is $30,387.

Jawing between the two escalated into a fight with less than 30 seconds to play in the first half Sunday. Green put his hand on Ramsey’s shoulder, and Ramsey responded by pushing him in the back. Green jumped up and grabbed Ramsey around the neck, throwing him to the ground. He punched him multiple times as players from both times rushed off the sidelines and joined the fight.

Both were ejected from the game and did not play in the second half. Bucaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, who was suspended for throwing a blindside punch at Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, was not ejected from the game.

Green has no prior history of on-field incidents and never had a personal foul prior to the game. He was fined once in 2015 for kicking a ball into the stands in a rare display of emotion after a touchdown.

“I shouldn’t have reacted that way. I apologize to my teammates, [Bengals owner Mike] Brown and everybody, because that’s not who I am. It just got the best of me today,” Green said after the Bengals’ 23-7 loss.

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Joe Flacco’s checkdown passes aren’t benefitting him or the Baltimore Ravens’ offense.

Checkdowns have become a regular part of watching Baltimore Ravens football. The attempt to run the West Coast offense has been a frustrating spectacle to watch since the departure of Gary Kubiak in 2014. From Marc Trestman to  Marty Mornhinweg, the passing offense has largely revolved around these short throws, with no success.

We know the Ravens’ passing offense was horrendous last season. They averaged just 189.4 yards per game and failed to provide any threat in that area of the game. But whether the Ravens have had a top 10 or bottom five passing game, checkdowns have always been an integral part of the offense.

Scott Kacsmar and the folks over Football Outsiders took a look at exactly what the Ravens have relied on in recent years. They’re called failed completions. Football Outsiders defines the stat as “any completed pass that fails to gain 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent on second down, or 100 percent on third or fourth down.”
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Of the 35 qualified quarterbacks on the list, Joe Flacco had the second highest failed completion percentage last season (36.1%). He finished only in front of rookie Mitchell Trubisky. The bottom five quarterbacks consisted of Brett Hundley, Brian Hoyer, Deshone Kizer, Trubisky and Flacco himself. Two were rookies, two were backups and one was a 10-year veteran. Can you guess who the outlier is?

Joe Flacco has struggled but the blame doesn’t fall solely on him. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg loves the dink-and-dunk passing offense. That may have worked in his previous stints but the Ravens are a completely different team. The reality is, they don’t have the personnel to fit the checkdown system. Flacco is a big-armed quarterback who’s past his mobile stage. At receiver, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, and Jeremy Maclin are all vertical threats. There’s a reason they don’t benefit from short-intermediate passes.

This doesn’t mean short throws and checkdown passes can’t be part of the offense, they just shouldn’t be the primary mode of production. A softspoken Flacco has even publicly advocated for more deep shots. When you have a quarterback who can unleash the football 60-70 yards, you want to play to his strengths. Aside from Week 5 win over the Raiders, the Ravens rarely incorporated deep throws into the passing game last season.

Since 2014, Flacco’s has posted career highs in completion percentage. It seems positive on the surface until you look further.  Flacco’s yards gained per pass attempt was a career low in 2017 (5.7). It’s gradually declined since the 2014 season, arguably Flacco’s best year. Completing passes is great but when they’re gaining minimal yards with no points on the board, that’s a problem. The checkdown passes aren’t benefitting Flacco or the Ravens offense right now and that’s a major problem.