MAILBAG: On Sanu Injury, Comparison to Housh, Doug Martin And Adam Jones

John Grieshop

The mailbag offers quality comments and commentary from our awesome community at Cincy Jungle. This is our effort to help highlight some of that.

[We're revitalizing the mailbag again, discussing topics that you, our readers, email, tweet and comment on Facebook. We'll also take a few FanPosts and expand on our thoughts for additional discussion. If you have a question you want us to examine, or just want to see your name on these posts, please email me at joshkirkendall@gmail.com]

ON FEELING ALRIGHT AFTER SANU INJURY

John from our Facebook page offers:

Who would've thought that the move back on cut down day to keep all seven wide receivers may actually be a saving grace this season? Hawkins injured, Sanu steps up. Jones & Hawkins back from injury as Sanu goes down. Honestly, feel bad for Sanu, but not overly fretting for the team.

Based on the threat of potential, part of me agrees. Yet I'm finding myself in a wait-and-see mode right now. Call it cautiously optimistic if you wish, but there are observations.

In absolute fairness, rookie receiver Marvin Jones hasn't had the opportunities to prove himself. And prior to Sanu's "bite me, I'm claiming a spot in the starting lineup" routine since Week 10 against the New York Giants, it was Jones that the Bengals coaching staff had planned on promoting before hurting a knee against the Steelers. So offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and wide receivers coach James Urban were already high on the young man. That being said, Marvin Jones hasn't proven anything yet, just that he could be a threat.

Andrew Hawkins, to me, has played a familiar Andre Caldwell routine this year. Don't misinterpret my meaning; not conclusively based on anything other than the end result. Caldwell made a handful of big plays with the Bengals, including a pair of game-winning touchdowns against the Steelers and Ravens in 2009. During a three-game stretch concluding 2010, Caldwell generated 270 yards receiving on 15 receptions. Yet throughout much of his Bengals career, he would make just enough receptions to remind us that was still around.

After Cincinnati's first three games this year, Hawkins generated 12 receptions for 208 yards receiving, including two touchdown receptions of 50 yards or more. Since then Hawkins is averaging 31 yards receiving per game during six games that he's played (missed two with an injury) and just one touchdown.

It's a weak comparison, no doubt. Nothing more than an observation, so agree, disagree or disregard. To me Hawkins is more dynamic, but if he, and Jones for that matter, are going to replace Sanu's production from the last three games, especially in the redzone, they have to step away from tired word of potential.

ON SANU POSSIBLY BEING THE NEXT HOUSHMANDZADEH

What outside observers fail to understand when reflecting on Cincinnati's high-powered passing game during the mid-2000s, wasn't so much the flash of Chad Johnson. When the Bengals desperately needed to convert a third down or score a touchdown in the redzone, it was Houshmandzadeh that Carson Palmer trusted. And it was Houshmandzadeh that often followed through with a drive-sustaining reception.

California Bengal Fan offers the comparison that Sanu could be the next Houshmandzadeh.

Just fast enough that you can’t go to sleep on the possibility he might go over the top. But really makes his money on finding the soft spots in the zone. He is not easily replaced. I think he has been the key to the offense these past three weeks. Just having him in there opens up other things.

We tend to compare current players to the best (and recent) memories from the best players (I've been looking for the next Richie Braham). Prior to his (likely) season-ending foot injury, Sanu was proving himself as a strong candidate to become the Scottie Pippin to A.J. Green's Michael Jordan. Is he Houshmandzadeh? Maybe one day.

The thing that set Houshmandzadeh above the rest wasn't just his field awareness and fearlessness to take a shot to ensure a first down reception. It was his intelligence and precise route-running, often beating defenders who were faster, strong and quicker than Houshmandzadeh. Yet T.J., who perfectly tapped into Carson Palmer's wave-length, beat them all. And he beat them regularly.

I'm not sure that Sanu is the next Houshmandzadeh. I think he could be better. Physically he's stronger with a body naturally built to shield defenders when he's in position. Does he have Houshmandzadeh's awareness and football intelligence? We could say he's capable. My feeling is that he won't threaten Houshmandzadeh's reception number. But he has all of the potential to break out from Green's shadow, much like Houshmandzadeh did.

ON DAYDREAMING TAMPA BAY RB DOUG MARTIN

During our latest mailbag, a debate (of sorts) formed with some daydreaming that they had wished the Bengals selected Doug Martin, the rookie out of Boise State selected No. 31 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Commenter Mexal summarized my perspective beautifully.

But the coaching staff was fine with Scott and BJGE.

And even if you think Dre is a late first round talent instead of a mid first round talent, the result is still the same; he is talented. Not only that, he’s talented at a position of need that will also be a position of need next year but given he wasn’t forced into premature action this year, he’s more likely to succeed. On top of that, his skill set fits very well within the Zimmer defense. I couldn’t be more excited for his future.

I think we’ll have no issue finding a talented RB in the draft this year and I think we’ll be a better team going into the future for the choices this team made this past year. I’m all for depth, more so than a lot of other people on here.

Yet sometimes these debates drive me nuts. Not you guys having them. Have at it. But judging rookies after only 11 games is difficult enough, much less a sample below that standard three years most set prior to judgment. Though he hasn't had the opportunity to show it this year, Kirkpatrick has a story to write for the Cincinnati Bengals.

ON HINDSIGHTING ADAM JONES SIGNING

During the same posting, Bengalsredsvictim made it a point to remind readers that when the Bengals signed Adam Jones in 2010, some Bengals fans had serious problems with that.

And for good reason. Three years prior to signing with the Bengals, Jones was involved in the Las Vegas shooting, leading to a one-year suspension. Following a stint with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Jones was reinstated and within the first month into in the regular season, he was involved with an altercation with his bodyguard. By the end of the 2008 season, Jones was suspended 22 of a possible 28 games. And that was just based off of two of several more incidents. He was released by Dallas, pissed off the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, forcing the Canadian Football team to withdraw a contract and eventually sat out in 2009.

Then he worked out for the Cincinnati Bengals in February of 2010.

Is Jones an exceptional talent? Yes. Were Bengals fan extremely nervous about Jones joining the organization? Hell yes. They had every reason to be. And though he's had one incident during his stint with the Bengals, he's proven himself enough to warrant fans' approval today. That's the thing about opinions. It's always based on the most recent information. And Bengalsredsvictim is absolutely right. Jones has proven himself an asset for the Cincinnati Bengals.

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