Ja’Marr Chase said he just needs to be patient while Tee Higgins has the “hot hands,” but at the same time, the Cincinnati Bengals third-year wide receiver wants more deep shots sent his way.
The explosive plays down the field have been missing the first two games, despite that being something that has opened up the offense and made the Bengals tough to defend in the past.
Chase has 10 catches for 70 yards through Cincinnati’s 0-2 start, but he had 183 yards and a touchdown on 15 receptions at this time last year.
“The best I can do is ask to throw me a go ball, ask for the ball,” Chase said. “That’s all I can do. It’s one of the things that I can control.”
Asked about Chase’s comments regarding his usage, Bengals coach Zac Taylor wasn’t surprised to hear he wants the ball more.
“As a player, you want the ball, especially when you’re a great player, and that’s what I preach about our guys because they always want the ball in small moments, the big moments, and that’s always going to be a challenge we have with the talent that we have on the team,” Taylor said. “Finding ways to utilize everyone to their best so we can win games, and that’s what we felt like we did yesterday. Ja’Marr has made a lot of plays down the field for us. Baltimore knows that.”
Chase said on Sunday he just needed to be patient while Tee Higgins had the hot hands, but on more than a few occasions Chase was wide open on an incomplete pass quarterback Joe Burrow threw elsewhere. Burrow had Chase open on one short pass to Trayveon Williams, which then led to a punt, while two defenders were on Tyler Boyd instead of marking Chase.
Higgins did his part with eight catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns, and Chase doesn’t want to take anything away from his fellow receiver. However, the Bengals didn’t have an offensive touchdown until the third quarter of the second game of the season, and Chase feels like he could be doing more.
He plans to be more vocal during games if he’s not getting the ball.
“I’m still going to ask for the ball on the regular,” Chase said. “Tee had the hot hand. They were feeding it to Tee.”
Chase said the Bengals could move him around more as they look at adjustments to make, but most of his looks have been on bubble screens and it feels like the offense has been playing it too safe.
Burrow’s calf, which he strained July 27 and then tweaked on his second to last pass Sunday, might be limiting his mobility and impacting the play calls, but Chase said even if Burrow can’t move around as well, he “could be a pocket passer and still be explosive.”
The team’s longest pass play was a 32-yard catch for running back Joe Mixon. Burrow threw a long of 12 yards against Cleveland, and the longest attempt he made down field to Chase was a 17-yarder that was negated by a flag. Chase’s longest reception was for 13 yards.
“We really haven’t taken that many shots downfield,” Chase said. “If you look at the last two games, you don’t really see that many shots downfield. We gotta take more shots downfield. That’s why we have deep threat guys. Take a chance.”
Burrow’s status for Monday night against the L.A. Rams remains in question because of his calf, but if he does play, there would be no better time to break out the explosives in a primetime game that will be hyped as a Super Bowl LVI rematch. The teams met last preseason, but starters didn’t play and, of course, it didn’t count.
Chase said that loss in the Super Bowl still sticks with the players. He remembers the confetti falling for the Rams’ postgame celebration and feeling of disappointment coming so close to a trophy.
“I guess you could say this is like a final get-back for the Super Bowl,” Chase said. “I’m pretty sure we’re going to play with that chip on our shoulder.”
The Bengals already have somewhat of a “chip” on their shoulders following the slow start to the season. Chase said the offense is still finding its rhythm overall but improved over the second half of Sunday’s game. The players aren’t worried with 15 games left to play. However, it’s time to get a win.
“We’re not going to panic,” Chase said. “Like I said, still a lot more football. We just gotta execute a little more. Be better on third downs. Gotta get open more. Just find the little pieces we gotta add together right now. It’s still early.”
Rams at Bengals, 8:15 p.m., ESPN, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7