Andre Caldwell has often been treated as the red-headed step child, or Harry Potter living with the Durslys under the staircase, in the Bengals offense. Being a ginger myself, it is my goal to point out when injustices such as these take place.
Here's why I think this is true. My argument is simple, Caldwell, like Simpson, has never really been given the chance to shine. It is often said, NFL players take three years to reach their potential. In 2008 Andre Caldwell was drafted in the third round by Cincinnati. As a rookie he didn't play much, which one expects from the WR position. However, in 2009, Andre's second year, his development took off despite the presence of a more seasoned Laveranues Coles. Caldwell caught several game winning passes against Division rivals and all things considered showed tremendous improvement in his game. You'd think, in his third season the coaches would be willing to give him a chance to see if his development would continue on the field. Instead, they brought in not one, but two players on the downside of their career in Antonio Bryant and Terrell Owens, drafted a slot receiver in Jordan Shipley, and a pass catching Tight end in Jermaine Gresham - effectively stunting Caldwell's growth. That is until the last three games of last year. Here's what happened in those three games.
For a total of 15 catches for 270 yards (18 yards per catch). These kind of numbers, projected over a season would equal a 1440 yards! Now why wasn't this kind of production been noticed by the likes of the media, fans, and ownership? Simply put, like Britney Spears at a chess convention (and yes, I think B. Spears is desperate enough for attention to attend a chess convention), Jerome Simpson stole all the attention. Here's what Simpson did over that same period of games.
Vs, Browns: 2 Catches - 30 yards (15 ypc)
Vs. Chargers: 6 - 124 (20.7 ypc) (59 yard trick play)
Vs. Ravens: 12 - 123 (10.3 ypc)
For a total of 20 catches for 277 yards (13.85 ypc). Clearly, during those last two games Simpson put up some gaudy numbers and he deserves a lot of credit and attention for what he did. But take away the trick play bomb against the Chargers... and Simpson had a pedestrian 5 catches for 65 yards (13 ypc). Also, take into account those two lost fumbles against the Ravens, and consider: Who's a better receiver, Caldwell or Simpson?
Now, in 2011 the Bengals have further stunted Caldwell, just as he appears to be on the verge of breaking out talent wise, by drafting AJ Green, who is almost sure to take time and reps away from the guy. Ok, I realize that some of this is clearly hyperbole, and a lot more can be said about Caldwell's talent. He's probably a guy best suited to have big play guys around him, stealing attention, and because of his size will probably never get 10 touchdowns in a year. Same goes for Simpson, a guy who couldn't find his way onto the field his first few years in the league. But I wanted to bring to light a player that has largely been overlooked, under-appreciated, and under-hyped since his time in Cincinnati. With all that said, who do you think is the better player?