3 Bengals who must step up versus 49ers in week 14

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals
Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

Bengals Who Need to Step Up – Ja’Marr Chase

It’s hard to call out a receiver that, 12 games in, in his rookie season boasts 55 receptions, 958 yards, and eight touchdowns. But where are we really with Chase?

Through seven weeks Ja’Marr Chase was the toast of the NFL. Setting records right and left, all but locking up OROY, reclaiming his role as Joe Burrow’s favorite target from their LSU days. Then suddenly, gone.

Okay, to be fair, not exactly gone per se. Chase is a savage and willing blocker and consistently draws a double team, thus freeing up Tee Higgins. However, one must ask, “how did the league figure out how to contain Chase”? I’m not sure they have.

Since the awful two-game stretch after the Ravens game, where Chase saw 21 targets to only nine catches, including numerous drops that ultimately helped cost the Bengals the Jet game, the Bengal offense has seen a fundamental shift to a much more run-heavy attack. As a consequence of Chase drawing so much attention, Mixon has flourished, and Tee Higgins is performing like a WR1.

This doesn’t mean Chase hasn’t been involved, as he has caught 11 of 17 targets the last three weeks, but his production has been mostly short stuff. However against the Chargers, in a key moment, Chase dropped a potential 71-yard touchdown pass that would’ve swung early momentum back for the home team.

While experts are throwing around platitudes like “rookie wall”, a closer look reveals Chase is extremely close to busting out and posting a monster game. It appears the drops are focus related rather than the result of a college player not being ready for the rigors of a long NFL season, but either way, the Bengals are going to need Ja’Marr Chase to step up and correct his issues against the Niners.