I listened to the postgame show on the Bengals Radio Network. I heard AJ Green sound defiant, yet contrite, simultaneously explaining why he decided to fight Jalen Adams while apologizing for getting the boot. I heard the host of the postgame show defend what AJ did while at the same time lamenting the impact of his absence.
None of it mattered.
I am a huge AJ Green fan. If at any point from early during his rookie season until now, if you would've asked me who my favorite Bengals player was, I would've responded with AJ's name. I'm a big AJ guy, not just because of how he plays but because of who he is.
Who he is, is not a guy who has a temper that gets the best of him. He's neither an overly demonstrative guy, nor is he a guy that has a reputation for selfishness or stupidity.
Which made participation in a fight that resulted in his ejection all the more startling.
Did AJ Green have every reason to snap at Jalen Ramsey? Based on what I saw, yes. Ramsey shoved AJ to the gound after AJ merely touched Ramsey's shoulder, an unprovoked move by Jacksonville's corner that was totally unncessary.
But the moment AJ decided to retaliate, any chance the Bengals had of winning in Jacksonville went up in smoke. A team that's woefully short in receiving weapons (it'd be swell if the ninth overall pick in last year's draft could, you know, dress for games), deficient on the offensive line, and limited at quarterback faces an uphill battle on the road as is.
It has no chance without its best player.
Which is why AJ can't get tossed.
Which is why his cooler head needs to prevail.
Now do I think what AJ did was solely the result of a few trash talk-filled trips downfield or one or two shoves? No. I believe that AJ losing his mind was the result of an entire half-season (maybe more) of frustration. (I very, very, much believe this, as a matter of fact) Maybe frustration with his quarterback. Maybe frustration with his coaches. Maybe frustration with his overall professional lot in life.
But as justifiably frustrated and undeniably provoked as AJ Green must've been, he simply cannot get thrown out of a game the Bengals have to win, especially when they're constructed the way they are.
AJ's absence isn't the only reason why they lost. In fact, I'll argue that with an anemic offense, a poor O-line, a limited quarterback, shaky coaching, and a defense that can't make game-changing plays, the Bengals would've lost to the Jaguars even if AJ Green would've been around for the game's duration.
Without AJ, the Bengals had no chance.
Simply put, if you're AJ Green, you can't get thrown out. Even if you're provoked. Even if your disaffection is understandable. Especially when your team is 3-4 and playing on the road with zero margin for error.
His ejection isn't the reason why the Bengals lost.
It's why, from the moment it happened, any chance of the Bengals winning this game, and making something of their season, went down in flames.
AJ Green, playing for a team that isn't exactly renown for its composure, should've kept that in mind when he decided to fight.