Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals are still looking for a complementary wide receiver to A.J. Green. They have a couple of promising youngsters to fill the role, but there is still a noticeable void.
One of the main objectives for the Bengals going into the 2012 season was to find a viable second wide receiver for their offense. The team felt that Jerome Simpson wasn't the answer and allowed him to walk in free agency, choosing a variety of different avenues to explore to fill the role. With the exception of investing in a high-priced free agent at the position, Cincinnati's coaches have tried a veteran (Brandon Tate), an undrafted free agent journeyman (Armon Binns), as well as a couple of rookies (Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones). A consistent threat opposite A.J. Green hasn't been found amongst these options.
The best results came from Sanu, though his sample size was rather small. In their late-season four-game winning streak, Sanu played an integral role in three of those wins, posting four touchdowns. Since his season-ending foot injury, the Bengals offense has sputtered in the red zone. But, even with Sanu, the team primarily played him in the slot and not on the outside.
Marvin Jones has had his ups and downs since Sanu was placed on injured reserve. He had a couple of nice catches and some nice runs off of reverses, but the consistency hasn't been there yet and the red zone issues are rearing their ugly head. He, along with every other wide receiver, did not have a catch last week against the Eagles. He still has some time to integrate himself into the offense, but he still hasn't shown what the team was hoping from him as of yet.
As for Tate, his role has been relegated to special teams only and Binns was released and subsequently picked up by the Dolphins. The big question mark from 2012 is looking like a bigger one heading into 2013. I haven't touched on Andrew Hawkins as he is primarily a slot receiver, but even as a secondary option, Hawkins has proven to be a bit of a "feast or famine" player.
Like running back, the Bengals need to figure out a long-term solution at receiver. I'm not suggesting that they don't already have their answer on the roster as it currently stands, but there hasn't been much substantial evidence pointing to a long-term solution.
The Bengals will have to decide whether or not they want to be patient and see what they truly have in Sanu, Jones and Co., or if they are going to make another major move next year, be it in the draft or free agency. Regardless, someone has to emerge on a consistent basis to take heat off of Green and Andy Dalton.