Terrell Owens missed the previous two games against the Browns and Chargers with a season-ending torn meniscus. Chad Ochocinco played in 38 of 72 snaps against the Browns and was inactive against the Chargers while dealing with problems with the bone spur in his left foot. So what happens in those two games?
Andre Caldwell catches eight passes for 176 yards receiving, including a 53-yard reception against the Browns and a 44-yard reception against the Chargers. Jerome Simpson catches eight passes for 154 yards, including a two-touchdown performance against the Chargers, leading the Bengals to a 34-20 win over San Diego. Jermaine Gresham contributes with five receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown with Jordan Shipley rounding out the team's wide receiver core with another touchdown against the Chargers.
Most importantly with the crop of younger wide receivers stepping up isn't just their production. It's that Carson Palmer is enjoying the sport of football again, seen by his body language and enthusiasm. Some will say, "well, if Carson were a true leader, he should have been able to handle Chad and Owens and taken advantage of their talents." True. Palmer isn't the type of quarterback in the mold of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in that he demands excellence while the cameras are rolling. But when have we ever believed that during his eight-year career?
The distribution among the team's core, along with the team's stubbornness to run the football, has been the catalyst of the team's two-game winning streak after dealing with a 10-game losing streak in which Owens and Chad Ochocinco started.
Many are quickly blaming the coaching staff for not allowing Simpson to blossom earlier. The knock on Simpson has always been about him not picking up the playbook and the coaching staff being comfortable enough with him. The knock on the coaching staff might be more warranted on actually working with Simpson to expedite his growth earlier in his three-year career, rather than burying him on the depth chart by signing Laveranues Coles, Antonio Bryant and Terrell Owens. Because one thing that's not the case, is his any lack of talent, speed and athleticism. If the mental part of the game was the cause for Simpson's stunted growth, then the coaching staff could be to blame for not working with him to get him on the field sooner. Because if Sunday's win over the San Diego Chargers proved anything, it's that this kid can play ball.
So here's your question of the day.
Would you be comfortable with the team banking their future on wide receivers Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley, or would you still want the team to upgrade the position, either through free agency or the NFL Draft. Note, when answering, you have weigh whether or not to include Chad Ochocinco.