Bengals: Ja’Marr Chase did not blame his drops on NFL balls
By Aaron Burd
Bengals rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase is under some undeserved scrutiny for a comment he said that was taken out of context about the difference between the NFL balls and NCAA footballs. Let’s get to the bottom of that quote and see what was actually said. Here’s the quote that drew so much attention:
"The ball is different because it is bigger, It doesn’t have the white stripes on the side so you can’t see the ball coming from the tip point so you actually have to look for the strings on the ball at the top, which is hard to see because whole ball is brown and you have the six strings that are white. But for the most part, just have to get used to it and find out what I am comfortable with catching.”"
Sounds bad, right? Well, without context, a lot of things can sound bad. However, those who listened to the interview would know that this was an answer to a direct question about the difference between NCAA and NFL balls. Chase was not blaming his drop on NFL balls, he was simply answering a question.
Ever since this quote surfaced on Thursday morning, the internet has been plastered with misleading articles and posts slandering Chase for “blaming his preseason drops on the hard to see NFL football”. However, when considering the context of the question that he was asked, it’s clear that he said no such thing.
So there you have it, Chase was clearly asked a specific question, not making any excuses about the ball. Why this context was overlooked by the countless websites that ran with the dishonest framing of this story is beyond me. This appears to just be a classic case of the media seeing blood in the water and pouncing on a rookie with a promising future.
Hidden beneath this whole fake controversy, however, is an actually interesting quote that has gone under the radar. In this same interview, Chase touched on what could actually be causing his drops.
"“I would just say it’s a lack of concentration. That’s all it was,” Chase said. “If you look back at it, I jumped in the air when the ball got to me. My eyes weren’t concentrating on the ball. I didn’t keep still, so that makes my eye adjustment for the ball move around and now my eyes get lazy where the balls coming in from.”"
While the loudest voices in the room were mocking Chase for something he did not say, the young receiver actually showed maturity and self-awareness by being honest about his struggles. He admitted that he had been struggling with concentration, and gave specifics on what he was doing wrong.
For a receiver just entering the league to be honest about his struggles, pinpoint the problem and still have the confidence to talk some trash before the game shows the level of mental maturity that the Bengals need at receiver. After their last top ten pick at the position struggled with drops and the mental game, fans should be relieved to see a receiver who appears unfazed.
If you ask me, it seems like Chase has a handle on the situation and should get past this obstacle soon enough.
As the Bengals get set to face the Minnesota Vikings at home on Sunday, Chase will be a crucial piece of the puzzle if they are to start out 1-0. He’s not going to let the noise get to him when it’s game time, so fans should ignore the negativity too.