After a four game slump, the Bengals are welcoming the New York Giants to town on Sunday in Paul Brown Stadium. Both teams are coming off of frustrating week nine fourth quarter losses and looking to get a win in the Jungle. The teams have a lot to prove and are reeling to the get win this weekend. You can cut the tension between them with a knife.
The Bengal’s stud wide receiver learned firsthand just how tense the mood was. Earlier this week, A.J. Green, was a guest on New York’s radio station WFAN. He was asked about how he felt about his chances against the Giants defense. A.J. responded honestly, “I feel like they’ve got a lot of holes in their defense.”
Whether Green meant any harm in his statement is unknown, but normally the wide receiver steers clear of controversy and remains humble. He may have been speaking of the stats. The Giants defense is ranked 26th against the pass and 19th against the rush. However, A.J. meant it to be, the Giants defense did not appreciate them when they heard about it in the locker room.
After hearing A.J.’s comments, Giants safety Antrel Rolle responded, “I could care less. It don’t matter to me. I’ll talk with my pads, he better duck.”
Rolle is coming into the game with 49 tackles and two interceptions returned for an average of 21 yards. Green is sitting atop the other Bengals receivers with 735 receiving yards, 17 rushing yards, and 8 touchdowns this season. This should make an interesting match up to watch on Sunday afternoon.
Another guy to keep your eye on Sunday is the Bengals quarterback, Andy Dalton. In the four game losing streak, Andy has been struggling with turnovers and poor decision making. In recent weeks, it has gone as far as his own coach calling him out on his issues and leadership role with the team. Though Dalton appeared to take it on the chin, all of Cincinnati is waiting for him to step up and see what he is going to do with it.
Marvin Lewis’ words even perked the ears of Bengals’ great Boomer Esiason. For those of us around in the Boomer era, we know that the quarterback had no problem stepping on toes when the team needed it. He was a motivator and led his team to a Super Bowl and earned 1988 NFL MVP honors, by ruffling feathers when the time called for it.
Many have criticized Andy for being too nice, even more so now in the face of a disastrous 2012 campaign for the team. Boomer offered his thoughts on Marvin Lewis’ comments. “I cringed a little bit when I heard that comment because everybody’s not made out to be that way,” Esiason told Dan Hoard of Bengals.com, “I know what Marvin is doing – he’s trying to raise the compete level.” He went on to say, “Believe you me, if he didn’t think that Andy could handle it, he wouldn’t do it.”
He also offered caution and encouragement to the to the second year quarterback before he makes a drastic move to the “jerk” Lewis wants him to become. “When people try to be somebody they’re not, number one, they’re very uncomfortable. And number two, it comes off wrong to the people that he’s trying to lead. Andy is a really good player and is going to be a good long-term player. He’s a serious football player. He’s not a jackass, he doesn’t screw around, he pays the price, all of those things. They’re just trying to get him to be a little more aggressive verbally, but that’s not who the young man is and he shouldn’t try to be somebody like that. He’s more like Kenny Anderson, and I think that he’s going to have a great career.”
Dalton has already had a pretty great career. As a rookie he led his team to the playoffs and went to the Pro Bowl. Even this year, he has been able to post a lot of passing yards and is on pace to throw for over 4200. However, he is the only quarterback in the NFL to throw an interception in every game this season. His turnovers are killing the team and erasing the good he has been doing.
In other Bengals news, the game will be blacked out on Sunday, as it did not sell out by the deadline. The team has dug themselves into a hole and the fans have all but turned their back on their hometown team. The Bengals must get the win Sunday, not only to help themselves to a successful season but to make the fans believe again.