The Cincinnati Bengals used the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase out of LSU. Not only was he seen as the top wideout in this class, but he also had already established chemistry with quarterback Joe Burrow — with whom Chase won a national championship in 2019. Chase’s ceiling is very high, but his performance in Week 2 of the preseason against Washington will be one to forget.
Chase was targeted by quarterback Brandon Allen three times in the first half of the eventual 17-13 loss, and the Biletnikoff Award winner dropped all three passes. All three throws weren’t tossed perfectly, but all three did hit Chase in the hands.
After the game, Bengals coach Zac Taylor was asked about Chase’s struggles, and he responded by saying that he’s improving in other areas and that they are just going to continue to work with him.
“We just gotta continue to work on it every single day. It’s key that our receivers do a great job focusing, catching the ball,” Taylor said after the game, via ESPN’s Ben Baby. “He’s getting better every day at a lot of the other details that maybe go unnoticed. So we’ll just keep looking for improvement there.”
Chase was targeted just once in Cincinnati’s first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — a screen pass he took for a gain of 16 yards. He didn’t receive any targets downfield, however.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Chase dropping passes has been brought up, as he’s missed a few catchable balls in training camp. Taylor commented on those drops earlier this week.
“I’m not concerned about that [drops],” Taylor said, via SI.com. “We want him to catch the football, there’s no question about that, but again, we just want to see progress every day in all areas and I have seen him make progress as a receiver for what we’re looking for. Again, we don’t wanna drop the football, but he’s starting to make more plays for us and we’re heading in the right direction there.”
There’s no reason to overreact and take Chase off of your fantasy football targets list. This is still a guy who caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns a couple of years ago with Burrow as his quarterback. Taylor is doing the right thing by taking things slow and wanting him to be a complete player. Wide receivers face more learning curves at the next level other than catching the ball in tighter windows. Chase has the talent, and has a couple of weeks to buckle down before Cincy’s opening game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 12.
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