When the Cincinnati Bengals entered the 2013 season, the question of who would play the No.2 wide receiver opposite A.J. Green. Most argued that the team finding an answer to that question would be a key to their success going forward. The coaches knew that they had a couple of talented second-year players at the position in Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.
Both players flashed as rookies, but it was Jones who stepped up big time in his sophomore campaign. He teamed up with Green to be the first Bengals wide receiver duo to catch double-digit touchdowns in a single season--Green with eleven and Jones with ten. Though there are still some kinks that need to be refined in Jones' game, he seems to be way ahead of schedule and routinely made tough catches seem routine. More than that, he did a little bit of everything from short and intermediate routes and added the deep ball prowess to his skill set.
Sports Illustrated writer and creator of "The Monday Morning Quarterback" column, Peter King, recently featured a piece on potential "Emerging" players for 2014. Being the uber-Bengals critic that King is, fellow MMQB contributor Andy Benoit was the one who tabbed Jones as a player designated at his position in the column.
Maybe Jones doesn’t qualify as an "emerger" after catching 51 balls and 10 touchdowns last season. But if he continues the torrid pace of development that he’s shown since entering the league as an unripe fifth-round pick in 2012, he’ll have at least 70 catches and 1,000 yards in 2014. If Jones played with anyone other than A.J. Green, he’d be the most acrobatic downfield receiver on his team. Working with one of the league’s best passing game position coaches, James Urban, Jones should continue to improve his route running and become a more dynamic threat anywhere on the field. And, thanks to Green, he’ll mostly face single coverage.
A lot of accurate statements by Benoit there. If the Bengals can also find a consistent threat in the slot--be it Andrew Hawkins, Sanu or one of their talented tight ends--the offense could round out to be a formidable one once again. And, if defenses begin to shift a little bit of coverage Jones' way, guess who will receive potential single coverage? Yep--Green.
Though Jones' goal for 2014 shouldn't be to live up to Benoit's expectations, it's imperative that he continues the same progress and productivity for the sake of the Bengals' continued success next year. He, like so many other key pieces on this Bengals team are still young and will begin to enter their prime as NFL players. It's that fact that has Cincinnati's outlook pointing upward in the years ahead.