Bengals’ Chase eying new goals after record-setting rookie season

CINCINNATI -- Ja’Marr Chase hasn’t finished compiling his goals for his second season. Some of his Post-It notes from last year still hang on his mirror, but he is still thinking of ways he can build on a record-setting rookie campaign.

The Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver last year wanted to top 1,500 yards, grab 10 touchdowns and win the Rookie of the Year award, among other goals. He came up short on that first goal but broke the franchise’s single-season receiving record with 1,445 yards in the regular season and set rookie records for touchdowns (13) and receptions (81) on his way to being named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Chase said he only has a couple of his goals for this season decided, but he isn’t worried about a second-year dropoff.

“I just need to go out there and be myself again,” Chase said. “Everybody is expected to want to see a show but I was just playing my game, playing confident. That’s just what I did.”

The 2021 No. 5 overall draft pick for now is just focusing on getting himself ready for another year. He plans to do that by repeating his routine of trying to catch 10,000 balls this offseason.

That was something he and the other receivers at LSU did with Burrow in the summer of 2019, leading up to a historic season in which the offense broke a number of national, conference and College Football Playoffs records en route to winning a national championship.

To get there, he tries to catch 100-200 passes a day, on top of the tennis balls he catches to work on hand-eye coordination.

“This year, what I’ve been working on the most is just staying low on my releases,” Chase said. “And trying to overemphasize the head fakes with the shoulders and eyes and stuff like that so they don’t jump all over my body.”

Chase believes the Bengals offense still has room to improve even after getting to a Super Bowl. The addition of three new starters on the offensive line should help quarterback Joe Burrow have more time to throw the ball, and the running game can do more as well.

Cincinnati got off to a slow start offensively in 2021 but almost had all three of its starting wide receivers reach 1,000 yards. Tee Higgins joined Chase in that milestone while Tyler Boyd came up just short.

“There is definitely a next level,” Chase said. “We’ve got to find it. That’s the next level. Last year we found it midseason so now we’ve got to find another one.”

Chase still hasn’t watched the film from Super Bowl LVI. He plans to, but still isn’t ready.

The Bengals lost 23-20 to the L.A. Rams, who they face in the preseason finale Aug. 27 at Paul Brown Stadium, but Chase had just beaten Jalen Ramsey to get open down the sideline as Burrow let go of a last-ditch effort pass while getting hit by Aaron Donald. Burrow said this week he saw Chase and had intended to throw to him but didn’t have time.

Chase threw his helmet on the ground immediately after the fourth-down incompletion, as the Rams were then able to kneel out the clock.

“I’m a little pissed still,” Chase said. “We lost. I didn’t go home the way I want. … It was tough.”

Other than how it ended, Chase felt like he and the other receivers “handled business” and proved themselves against a top cornerback like Ramsey.

The Bengals will go into the 2022 season with a bigger target on their back after going through the whole postseason as underdogs. They had embraced that role and now they will embrace having greater expectations from the start.

“Now we just gotta have the expectation that we are one of the best in the league and we got to keep that expectation and roll with it,” Chase said. “I felt confident about how far we went last year. Honestly, if we’re being real honest, that’s all the confidence we need right there.”

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