Bengals don’t think Ja’Marr Chase is ‘short on confidence’ after preseason drops

Written by on August 23, 2021

Ja’Marr Chase was the first wide receiver taken in a draft where three wide receivers were selected in the top ten. Based on the first two preseason games, Chase has performed the worst of the terrific trio between him, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith.

Perhaps Chase is getting back into the speed of a football game after taking the 2020 season off, but it’s uncharacteristic for a player of his talent to have the drops he’s had after Friday’s preseason game against Washington. Chase had three drops on three targets in that game — and followed it up with two drops to start Sunday’s practice (the second one led to an interception). 

The Bengals aren’t concerned, and don’t think Chase is seeing ghosts either. 

“I don’t think he’s short on confidence. That’s a good thing,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said, via Jay Morrison of The Athletic. “Guys are building him up. Just talking to (Tyler Boyd) and all these guys, these guys all struggled with coming in as a rookie. The expectations are so high that you expect him to be a star right out the gate. But it takes work. You gotta put in the work. That consistency comes over time, and by no means are we down on Ja’Marr. He’s just going through some of the things rookies go through in training camp, and we expect him to improve over the course of this week.”

Chase has just one catch for 16 yards on four targets in two preseason games, even though neither target has been from quarterback Joe Burrow. The drops in Sunday’s practice were from Burrow throwing him the ball, but Chase has time to get the drops out of his system prior to the start of the regular season. 

Chase had one of the greatest years for a pass catcher in SEC history in 2019. A unanimous All-American and Biletnikoff Award winner, Chase finished with 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. The receiving yards and touchdowns were SEC records, but have since been broken by Smith. Burrow completed 76.3% of his passes for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns in 2019 — the year Chase was his top wideout. 

The Bengals have no reason to worry about Chase yet, just based on his immense talent. Whether Chase can fix things mentally will be a critical aspect of his development. 

Will Joe Burrow come back healthy this season? Can Ja’Marr Chase live up to the hype? Download the CBS Sports app to see the latest news from our team of football experts, player projections, and more. If you already have the app, set the Bengals as your favorite team to get up-to-the-minute headlines.

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