One of the biggest surprises of the 2012 NFL season thus far has been the emergence of the Cincinnati Bengals, who are off to a 5-2 start and riding a four game win streak, due largely to the play of rookie sensations AJ. Green and Andy Dalton. Together, the wide receiver taken with the #4 overall pick and the second-round quarterback (respectively) are off to the best start of any rookie WR-QB duo in recent memory, giving Bengals fans hope for the future like they haven’t felt in ages.
The New York Times‘ NFL Blog, The Fifth Down, has an excellent piece today on the historical significance of the Dalton-to-Green connection. Not since Jim Plunkett and Randy Vataha connected for 51 passes for 872 yards and 9 touchdowns as Patriots in 1971 have a rookie pair taken the league by storm in this fashion. The closest thing since was the Redskins’ Joe Theismann to Gary Clark (who caught 72 passes for 926 yards and 5 TDs as a rookie in 1985), but it’s become a rarer phenomenon in recent years.
Already through seven games this season, Green has caught 33 passes for 516 yards and 5 TDs. And they have nine more games to notch 5 more scores and become the first rookie QB-WR tandem to connect for 10 TDs in NFL history. Wow.
Fortunately for us, NFL Films had both players mic’d up during their Week 6 win over the Indianapolis Colts, for the always-awesome SoundFX program. Watching and listening to these guys play, it’s clear that Green still has some mental issues on the field, which are to be expected of a rookie, and he more than makes up for with sheer physical talent. But Dalton comes off like an old pro, directing traffic and displaying the leadership of a seasoned vet in the huddle, on the sidelines and with the coaches. And together, the two are developing a chemistry that should be exciting to watch for a long, long time.
Hell, it already is pretty exciting to watch, and we’re just getting started.
VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP