Zac Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals are creating a new standard before our very eyes.
In the team’s 41-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the offense scored four of their five touchdowns in a span of about 19 minutes, all in the second half, while the defense kept the lid on Lamar Jackson’s running ability and forced two critical fourth down stops.
The other shoe was not going to drop. They were really going to beat the 5-1 Ravens by 24 points. And they couldn’t have done so without the star of their rookie class.
You know why you’re here. Let’s talk some Uno.
A little more than a minute remained in the first half on Sunday when CBS analyst Trent Green noticed Ja’Marr Chase getting up slowly from the ground. Chase had secured just his second catch of the day and Ravens cornerback Tavon Young took him down by the ankles. “And the way he was tackled, he was a little slow getting up there,” Green stated to his broadcasting partner Kevin Harlan.
Just two catches for 15 yards and a bum ankle. Was it going to be this kind of day for Chase? The Ravens should be so lucky.
Joe Burrow went back to his guy the very next play for a 13-yard back-shoulder route executed to perfection. Two plays later, Chase broke All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey’s press at the line and ran his 10-yard dig like Humphrey wasn’t even there. Burrow’s timing with Chase showed itself again as the two connected for a first down and more. Chase scurried for an additional 15 yards to get the offense inside field goal range.
The Ravens tamed the monster their way up to this point. Like most teams that have come before them, they would soon learn there is no containing this dude for the entire game.
Chase went on to have a 147-yard second half, amassed from just four receptions on six targets. The route tree did not expand, and the coverages did not change. Burrow and the offense simply pivoted from a Tee Higgins-centric first half to a Chase-filled second half.
Higgins is a talented receiver. He can not do what Chase did with 6:04 remaining in the third quarter. I’m not sure there are five other receivers in the game that can.
Taking a look at all eight of Ja’Marr Chase’s catches vs. the Ravens (7/8) ⭐️— SyedSchemes (@syedschemes) October 25, 2021
-Chase pushes vertical, fights the off hand jam like it is nothing, and gets his head back to the ball
-The balance after the catch is something you see in Madden
-Running total: 7-174-1 pic.twitter.com/EbmRTZPGcw
We’re running low on unused superlatives here.
Chase’s 201 yards in Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium (only A.J. Green has had more in a single game against the Ravens in the history of that stadium) has launched him to the top of the all-time leaderboard for rookie receivers after seven games. 754 yards is 133 more than what previous record holder Anquan Boldin had , and Chase did so on 16 fewer targets than rookie Boldin in 2003.
Everyone has come up with different ways of quantifying Chase’s nuclear hot start. Some anarchist even brought up that Chase has already passed John Ross’s career yardage in Cincinnati. That’s wild, but I like what I discovered even more.
According to Pro Football Focus, Chase is second in the league in Yards After Catch per Reception, Average Depth of Target, and first in Yards per Route Run through Week 7.
On the surface, nothing there is too shocking; he’s second in the league in receiving yards and has been consistently targeted deep. Only when you think about the nature of YAC/Rec and ADoT do you realize how insane it is to be at the top of both leaderboards. Receivers who generate a ton of YAC aren’t usually the guys who are targeted down the field often. The two statistics typically work against each other.
Chase is the first receiver in the PFF era (2006-now) to be top two in all three categories after seven weeks. 2018 Tyreek Hill was the closest to achieve those rankings when he was third in YAC/Rec, ADoT, and fourth in Y/RR. Hill finished that season with 87 receptions, 1,479 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
To no one’s surprise, Chase is up for yet another Rookie of the Week title belt and will surely be announced the winner come Thursday. Rookie of the Year honors is essentially locked in so long as he stays healthy for the remainder of the season and Mac Jones doesn’t turn into Tom Brady too soon.
Rookie of the Year is one thing, 1st Team All-Pro is something else entirely. We need to start that discussion for Chase if he keeps up this incredible pace. And who’s to say he won’t?
Chase’s brilliance has overshadowed Jackson Carman’s best start of his young career thus far. 38 penalty-less reps in pass protection netted just one pressure allowed. The majority of pressure the Ravens forced came from the edges, but managing their multiple fronts from pre-snap to post-snap is no small task for any rookie. And Carman did this while giving center Trey Hopkins the silent count signal all game.
Carman experienced peaks and valleys in the run game, as Baltimore made it difficult for the Bengals to move the ball on the ground for the first three quarters. His highest peak came on his last snap of the game. As the backside guard on an outside zone run, Carman reach took defensive tackle Brandon Williams for a ride into the second level. Samaje Perine bent his run back towards Carman’s bulldozing block and ended up in the end zone 46 yards later for the game’s final touchdown.
Jackson Carman simply makes 338 pound Brandon Williams look like a child here. pic.twitter.com/m1JeIyt0Af— Andrew Russell (@PFF_AndrewR) October 26, 2021
An encouraging day to say the least for the Bengals’ rookie right guard. Landing on the COVID list and experiencing what appeared to be food poisoning in the last two weeks were setbacks for the 21-year old, but a strong outing against a tough defensive front is great to see from Carman.
The Bengals’ defense as a whole get an A for defending against Lamar Jackson, but there were some occasional slip ups. Cameron Sample lost contain a few times, but it’s his first time against Baltimore. It’ll happen. He played over 30 snaps for the second-straight week. PFF had him with three hurries on Jackson on 24 pass-rushing snaps.
Before the game, Trey Hill was reportedly taking reps as the first-team center. This turned out to be meaningless as Hopkins started the game and didn’t leave until the team pulled most of their starters on offense. Hill ended up playing the final seven snaps alongside backups Isaiah Prince and Fred Johnson.
This was news to me, but apparently M&T Bank Stadium isn’t too kind for long-distance kicks. Was this why Evan McPherson wasn’t given a chance when the Bengals were at the 39 yard-line on their first drive? Zac Taylor opted to punt instead.
McPherson got his chance the next drive and drained a 52-yarder, his first attempt in an outdoor setting since his Week 5 nightmare against the Green Bay Packers. He would also make a 30-yarder right before halftime and made all five of his extra point attempts.
Bengals injury news is hard to come by right now. Unfortunately for Chris Evans, his hamstring injury may be something to monitor. Evans showed up on the team’s injury report last week, but ended up being cleared to play. Taylor told reporters on Monday that Evans’ hammy was giving him issues during the game, which is why Evans didn’t play on offense the entire game.
No one is forgetting what Evans did against the Detroit Lions, but his injury coupled with Samaje Perine’s 69-yard game in Baltimore will still have him fighting for reps behind Joe Mixon.
Did Not Play
- Tyler Shelvin (inactive)
- Darius Hodge (inactive)