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Jets vs. Bengals: How A.J. Green's Usage Can Present a Dilemma

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

One effective way the Bengals have used star receiver A.J. Green in the past is use formations to limit the amount of traffic he has to work with, crowding the other side of the field.

The idea isn't exactly revolutionary. The Bengals are looking to create space and one on one matchups for their best player. You can see it in this picture. With all of the receivers on the other side of the field send the defensive bodies there. The defense at times will give away that it is playing one on one and also provide Green with room to work.

More than the ability to create one on ones is how Green opens things up for other offensive players, and one play really jumps out at me from last year's Cincinnati game against Seattle. It actually was not from a formation where Green was all alone on his side, but he is on a side with only one other eligible receiver with three on the other.

Now you might watch that play and say, "John, what the heck are you talking about? There was a breakdown in coverage on the other side of the field where most of the receivers were loaded. There's something else to note.

The guy in the circle is Earl Thomas, one of the premier safeties in football. Look how he is shaded to Green's side. Watch the play and see how Green draws his attention. Thomas is a very rangy guy. He's the type of safety who bails his team out when everything breaks down because he can get to the play to break things up. You can see he isn't quick enough to get to the ball because of how he is occupied by Green when he might otherwise have been in a position to help save the Seahawks from this breakdown. All of the traffic on the other side of the field contributed to the coverage breakdown.

This is the type of attention Green commands with his talent. Can Darrelle Revis still hold up on an island against Green for the whole game?

One suggestion I have heard for close to a year is that the Jets should have Revis lock down the other team's number two guy and to double the top guy on the opposition. This frequently is easier said than done, particularly when the Bengals try to isolate Green.

It is easy to say that a team should double team a guy, but your defenders have to know how to execute a double team. The lesser skilled the defender is, the more room for error exists. Take this touchdown from the Wild Card game. The Steelers seem to be in a coverage where they are providing help over the top. The problem is the underneath defender bails on Green too early because he becomes occupied by a back that comes into his area.

The formation hasn't left many Steelers on that side of the field who can help out.

Plays like these are why it is not as simple as leaving double teams on elite receivers with Revis locking down the other side. Things can go wrong.

With a relatively untested group behind Green, I am sure the Jets will mix their coverages. We will probably see Revis man up against Green at points as well as instances with Green drawing double teams. Considering the other targets, though, I wonder whether the best approach might be to just stick Revis on Green and give him help. It would allow Revis to be aggressive yet have a safety net. He is least apt to make a mistake on a double team. The Jets can then dare Andy Dalton to look to his other targets, which he doesn't want to do. You can adjust in game if it isn't working, but that might be the recipe most apt to get take him out of his comfort zone and Green out of the game.