Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase has been hit or miss so far

Kristen Wong
Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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There’s a learning curve for every rookie in the NFL, and that includes Cincinnati Bengals fifth pick Ja’Marr Chase.

The 21-year-old dominated college football alongside Joe Burrow at LSU in 2019, catching 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns.

That explosive Chase-Burrow connection is the reason Chase has the best odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year of any wide receiver, but Chase also knows this isn’t some college cakewalk anymore. This is pro ball, and he’s got to earn his spot no matter how highly touted of a prospect he is.

Chase and Tee Higgins have been staying after practices to work on deep balls with Burrow, and that kind of work ethic isn’t lost on coaches.

Zac Taylor has spoken highly of Chase’s football intelligence, and all things considered, it seems Chase has all the necessary tools to become an elite No. 1 wide receiver this year.

All he needs to do is execute.

Cincinnati Bengals rookie Ja’Marr Chase’s success with the team hangs in the balance

The biggest hurdle for Chase at training camp so far has been adjusting to NFL-level matchups. He can blaze past defenders with lightning speed and juke his way to an uncontested catch in one-on-one drills, but on the full field, he struggles with constant tight press coverage.

It may just be a matter of time for Chase to eventually master the playbook and gain a better understanding of technique and running routes (he’s no stranger to watching film, that’s for sure.)

Chase himself is surprisingly mature and introspective for his age and isn’t afraid of pointing out his own mistakes and learning from them.

His teammates believe Chase is on the right track, at least.

Fellow wideout Tyler Boyd told reporters, “The one thing he needs to do is just stay in the playbook and know his assignment right now. It (isn’t) really about him making ‘oooh’ plays and spectacular catches and stuff like that. As long as he knows his assignments and little details he will make plays. That’s why we got him.”

On the one hand, Chase is the future face of the franchise making unreal Beckham-like grabs. On the other, he’s another young prospect with too much expected of him and has the potential to crash and burn.

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The Bengals currently boast one of the best wide receiver rooms in the league, thanks to the trio of Chase, Boyd, and Higgins. If Chase can engrain himself in the system by the start of the season, achieving that 1,000 receiving yard mark should be a breeze for the three of them.

If not, someone else may have to step up and do the job instead.

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