A lot of people questioned the Cincinnati Bengals selecting wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft as their offensive line needed a lot of work. Those critics were quickly quieted, as Chase had a rookie season to remember, teaming back up with his college teammate at LSU in Joe Burrow.
Chase caught 81 passes for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. The yardage was a rookie record, as Chase was a no-brainer selection to take home the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. It could have been the second consecutive year an LSU wideout won the award, as Justin Jefferson made a strong case but Justin Herbert played very well for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Jefferson’s follow-up season was even better than his rookie campaign; can we expect the same from Chase with the Bengals? He already has some of his goals for the 2022 season laid out and while not ready to disclose exactly what they are, did share that they will be higher than last season.
“I’m not going to say what they are, but I don’t think they’re hard,” Chase said, via Jay Morrison of TheAthletic.com. “They’re a little more than last year, like catches and yards. I’ve still got to find my touchdown minimum.
“I’ll give y’all the list maybe before training camp.”
Exceeding the numbers that Chase produced as a rookie is no small task. That is a career season for most players that they would never replicate again. For Chase, it sounds like last season was just the tip of the iceberg as he is expecting to replicate it and more during his sophomore campaign.
“Last year I was just out there running routes, having fun again,” Chase said. “Now I’ve got all the small details down, like learning how to set people up before the next route. And I feel more comfortable with the offense. Maybe I can move around a little more when we see different things on film. I feel like all of that’s going to make me a lot better this year.”
That is certainly bad news for the cornerbacks around the NFL that will be tasked with slowing Chase down. Learning the nuances of the NFL and getting more comfortable in the scheme that the Bengals are running will only make him more dangerous on the field.
Chase also benefits from the supporting cast around him, as defenses cannot key in specifically on him for fear of getting burned by Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd through the air or Joe Mixon on the ground.