Feb 7, 2022; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) walks onto the field during the Super Bowl Opening Night Fan Rally at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

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Ja’Marr Chase’s quick rise paramount to Bengals’ success

It was a near-unanimous forecast that the Cincinnati Bengals should draft an offensive lineman with the fifth overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.

But when the selection was read, it was speedy receiver Ja’Marr Chase joining the Bengals, not a big behemoth to help protect quarterback Joe Burrow.

Chase rapidly validated the team made the right choice, but that doesn’t mean the topic isn’t spinning like a top during Super Bowl week.

“That’s not my job,” Chase said when asked to dissect the team’s decision. “They picked me and that’s who we got here so they must have made the right decision.”

Chase’s quick stardom is one of the reasons why the Bengals are AFC champions and set to play the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.

In his debut NFL campaign, Chase set a single-season franchise record with 1,455 receiving yards on 81 receptions and caught 13 touchdown passes. Chase twice topped 200 yards in a contest, including a franchise-best 266 against the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 2.

He has tacked on 20 catches for 279 yards and one score in three postseason victories.

The biggest factor in the stellar rookie campaign was Chase’s familiarity with Burrow, who played with Chase for two college seasons at LSU. The duo already had chemistry and didn’t need to develop it.

Second-year signal caller Burrow knew the Bengals were considering picking Chase but said he had nothing to do with it coming to fruition.

“I didn’t go in and say, ‘I’d love to have Ja’Marr,'” Burrow said. “The organization did a really good job of making me feel like I was at least kept in the loop about the process.”

Still, Burrow’s feedback didn’t hurt and the Bengals appear to have a go-to target for the long haul.

The 21-year-old Chase is displaying he will someday join the list of great Cincinnati wideouts — alongside guys like Isaac Curtis (1973-84), Cris Collinsworth (1981-88), Carl Pickens (1992-99), Chad Johnson (2001-10) and A.J. Green (2011-20).

It was Johnson, with 260 yards against the San Diego Chargers in 2006, who held the single-game yardage mark that Chase broke.

Collinsworth, who is calling the Super Bowl for NBC, stunned people on a conference call earlier this week by saying Chase is the top wideout in franchise history.

“Ja’Marr Chase, in my estimation, is already the best receiver that I’ve ever seen play with a Cincinnati Bengals uniform on, and I don’t say that lightly,” Collinsworth said. “Isaac Curtis is a dear friend of mine, and Chad Ochocinco (Johnson) was phenomenal during his run here.

“But the number of times I’ve seen Ja’Marr Chase catch the football, five or 10 yards down the field, and score a touchdown without anybody tackling him obviously, first of all, but usually nobody touching him, his catch-and-run skills have just been so much fun to watch this season.”

Those type of comparisons further the narrative that Chase has done amazing things for a rookie.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey has noticed and insists he wants to have the coverage duties in the Super Bowl.

“That’s what I’m asking for. That’s what I want,” Ramsey said. “Whoever you think their best man is, put me on him. Let me help the team win this game. That’s what it’s all about.”

Chase isn’t the least bit deterred by Ramsey’s wish.

“He trusts his speed a lot,” Chase said. “I don’t know how fast he runs in the 40 (yard dash) but we’re going to find out on game day.”

A top-notch team player, Burrow says you don’t have to worry about Chase throwing tantrums on the sideline and demanding the ball.

“If he sees something, he will come over and let me know,” Burrow said. “Ja’Marr is a guy if you tell him on the first rep, he does it (correctly) on the second rep. You don’t need to tell him about it over and over. He’s a great learner.”

What if the Bengals had drafted an offensive lineman and Chase ended up on a different team? Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said similar success would have happened for Chase.

“I think Ja’Marr, no matter what team drafted him, he would have had a ton of success this season,” Taylor said. “But I think him being able to hit the ground running and the chemistry standpoint and relationship with Joe has probably allowed him to maximize his opportunities in Year 1.

“You don’t go through the getting-to-know-you process. … He and Joe have already done that. They got that out of the way years ago at LSU. From Day 1, they were on the same page.”

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.


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