Cincinnati Bengals: Remaining Offense and Wide Receivers
It has been what the media have called it — a trying week — for the Cincinnati Bengals' wide receivers. For some, it will be an opportunity, for others "a distraction," for Jordan Shipley, it will be a hospital stay and for Jerome Simpson it could be a federal penitentiary stay (if you think that Michael Vick had a long stay, Simpson is going to be wishing he had the same conviction — if he is, in fact, involved).
Preceding the headline news (which came as no surprise to everyone on the planet that is familiar with the NFL and the Bengals), was the season-ending ACL tear received by Jordan Shipley.
Meanwhile, Cedric Benson was served up to the league by the NFLPA (so much for protecting the players' interest).
To put these three losses (if Simpson is in fact lost) in context, of the remaining players from the 2010 season on this year's roster, this trio accounted for 66 percent of the running back/receiver's cumulative starts, 82 percent of the rushing attempts, 76 percent of the rushing yards, 88 percent of rushing touchdowns, 53 percent of team receptions, 58 percent of receiving yards and 78 percent of the receiving touchdowns. Despite the large hole of Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and even tight end Reggie Kelly, this is overwhelmingly substantial in terms of remaining roster experience.
So with that being said — and being that the receiving corp was most affected — let us take a look at who is remaining to cover for the most damaged position — wide receiver.
Over four seasons which include 40 career games (going into Week 3 of the 2011 season), Caldwell has compiled 90 receptions for 882 yards with a 9.8 yards per reception average. Caldwell's effort has mostly been as a mid-drive, backup receiver with four total touchdowns. Prior to being a return specialist, Caldwell has been looked at for depth as a consistent and reliable player.
Week 3 saw Caldwell targeted 12 times, catching six passes for 53 yards — the longest being 14 yards.
AJ Green is the high-profile first-round draft pick from 2011 and the future of the receiving unit. Green was a three-year collegiate player at the SEC's Georgia University with 166 receptions, 2,619 yards, and a 15.8 yards per reception average to go along with 23 touchdowns. No season had more yards and average per reception than his first in which he compiled 963 yards for a 17.2 average per catch along with eight touchdowns.
Through three weeks, Green has caught 15 passes for 165 yards for an 11 yards per catch average to go along with two touchdowns.
Hawkins story is still relatively unwritten though intriguing. Joe Reedy of the The Cincinnati Enquirer highlighted Hawkins' road as a relatively light contributor at the University of Toledo to the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL (after a brief runner-up stint on Michael Irvin's reality show and the Browns' mini-camp) to participate in two Grey Cup championship teams.
What is more interesting is that Hawkins is the younger brother of former Cincinnati Bengals' cornerback, Atrell Hawkins.
Other than the aforementioned, Hawkins is largely unknown as a player.
Tate is famous for what he infamously did to the Bengals' in Week 1 of 2010 (a foreshadowing of the disaster that was last season) when he returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a 97-yard touchdown.
Taken in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Patriots, Hawkins saw action in all 16 games of the 2010 season compiling 24 receptions, 432 yards and three touchdowns.
Ryan Whalen came to the Bengals in the sixth round of the 2011 draft out of Andrew Lucks' Stanford Cardinals. Compiling 140 receptions for 1,884 yards, a 13.5 average yards per catch and seven touchdowns over a mostly three year career (he had exactly one reception as a freshman), Whalen is likely to see action in the slot if Simpson is otherwise detained....
Armon Binns (Practice Squad)
The local kid (in terms of having played his collegiate career for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats), Binns was undrafted and signed to the Bengals' practice squad on September 20th 2011. Armon might not even be on the squad by the time this slide is read but his stats do show some promise in that he largely saw the bulk of his action at UC during his junior and senior seasons (two catches, one for each of his first two years) catching 138 passes for 2,008 yards (14.6 yards per catch) to go with 21 touchdowns.
Remove Shipley and Simpson from the receivers and you have only two receivers with 15 games or more on an official game-day roster (Caldwell 15, Tate 21). The average age of the remaining receivers is 23 years and about a month with 40 total games played and 19 total starts.
That means that if you average out the experience of what is mostly Tate and Caldwell (6.7 games for each receiver and a paltry 3.2 games started), that leaves little in the way of experience and certainly casts that much more on AJ Green's shoulders to step up for the offense.
A couple of moves will be necessary for the team to continue to catch. As Week 3 taught us, production is already quite limited.