When the team shoved Chad Ochocinco in a box and stamped "To New England" on the side, shipping him off to the Patriots (I think that's how the NFL works), they also shipped off their all-time leading receiver. Ochocinco had more yards as a Bengals receiver than all the other receivers combined. By a lot.
The new leading Bengals receiver, Andre Caldwell, has less than a tenth of Ochocinco's career yards (855 yards and three touchdowns compared to 10,783 yards and 66 touchdowns), which, when paired with a rookie quarterback taking the snaps, is a scary thought.
However, Jerome Simpson, the receiver who will likely play opposite of A.J. Green as the team's No. 2 receiver, doesn't believe the unit's inexperience will be a problem at all. He believes that they are going to be talented enough that defenses won't be able to double-team one guy and shut them down. He thinks that any guy will be able to make a big play at any time.
"It's exciting because it's like the defense has to stay honest; they can't just double one person," Simpson said. "They have to stay honest and read us. Anyone can make a big play at any time."
Simpson, drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft, is extremely athletic but wasn't able to prove his worth until the final three games of the 2010 season. In his first two years on the team, he only caught one pass for two yards. Many Bengals fans felt that Simpson was a bust and he was criticized for his inability to learn Bob Bratkowski's playbook and adjust to the NFL game from small Coastal Carolina University, where he played college football.
Simpson wants to assure Bengals fans that understanding Gruden's new West Coast playbook won't be a problem this year.
"It makes sense. It fits our player personnel. It's player friendly," Simpson said. "You get to play your position, be an athlete and make a play. It's just about being on point. A lot of people try to say I didn't know my playbook and that will never happen again. I'm trying to go out and be on point and precise."
Coaches have noticed a change in Simpson. Now that he isn't playing behind Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Laveranues Coles, he has an opportunity to do what he did during the last three games of the 2010 season (20 receptions for 277 yards and three touchdowns) for 16 games. Head coach Marvin Lewis has been especially impressed.
Said Lewis: "It's like Jerome said to me, 'Coach, that will never happen again.' And he means it. And you don't have to worry about it. You don't have to have it corrected again in three days. he was very sincere about it. It's a great opportunity he has."
Even though the receivers on the team are inexperienced, they will bring a lot of excitement to Bengals fans. They are young but extremely talented and they seem to have the right attitude. If the receivers and their new quarterback, Dalton, grow together, the Bengals offense could be explosive in the next couple of years.