Hint: it’s not Ja’Marr Chase.
The Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver room is enjoying its most productive heyday yet with a trio of Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. But one of these is not like the others.
Chase has been downright terrific through six games. The rookie has hauled in 553 receiving yards, which ranks second all time given the stage of his career. He’s averaging 20.5 yards per reception and has five touchdowns to boot. He just might be the most well-oiled offensive wideout on the Bengals team this season.
So between Higgins and Boyd, it’s….
Tyler Boyd has caught 28 passes for 290 yards and one touchdown in 2021, and his target share rate is in the teens. Not exactly ideal for sixth-year wideout.
Boyd also ranks lowest in the average depth of his targets — while Chase averages 17.57 yards and Higgins averages 8.82 yards, Boyd averages a measly 5.72.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd needs to play a bigger role in offense
And the Bengals know exactly what Boyd can produce, too. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019, and with a surer arm in Joe Burrow, there’s no reason his production should decline that much this year.
When Higgins missed some games due to injury, Boyd recorded that monster 118-yard game against Jacksonville, and his production seemed like it was finally trending upward.
But Boyd followed that performance with games of 24 receiving yards and seven receiving yards and struggled to stack up to his WR peers in recent weeks.
As the most experienced member of the Bengals’ receiver room, though, Boyd needs to do better. He shouldn’t care that a rookie is massively outperforming him, but he should care that he hasn’t lived up to his elite wide receiver potential.
Cincinnati’s passing offense was touted to be so great in the offseason because the Bengals had not one, not two, but three dynamic breakout stars. Chase. Higgins. Boyd. The Bengals offense has been humming of late, but if Cincinnati want to keep winning they will have to depend on all their receivers to produce, and Boyd is currently the one who needs the most improvement.
Everyone else in the Bengals’ offense is thriving: Chase is on pace to become the Bengals’ first 1,500-yard receiver. Joe Burrow is on pace to become Cincinnati’s first QB to throw 40 touchdown passes.
Boyd is the odd man out in this passing offense, and if he’s not careful, he’ll be left behind in the dust this season.