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Despite drops, Ja’Marr Chase still among league leaders

Bengals’ rookie trying to rediscover the big play

Syndication: The Enquirer
Chase bobbles pass into the arms of Chargers’ cornerback Michael Davis.
Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ja’Marr Chase is good, no question about it. But he could be great.

The only thing standing in his way is . . . Ja’Marr Chase.

In the early part of the season, Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was one of the hottest tickets in the NFL. Then he wasn’t

The LSU product averaged 107.7 receiving yards per game over the first seven weeks of the season. That number has fallen off to 40.8 since.

By Halloween, Chase led the NFL with 354 receiving yards and had scored four touchdowns on balls thrown over 20 yards in the air. But he has just one catch of 20-plus yards in the Bengals’ last five games.

One reason for the falloff is drops. Chase currently stands among the league leaders in drops with nine. Probably the biggest of those came early in Sunday’s game against the Chargers when he bobbled a sure touchdown pass from Joe Burrow right into the hands of the trailing defender.

Los Angeles would turn the gaff into a touchdown. Instead of cutting the Chargers’ lead to 9-7, Cincinnati now trailed by a 16-0 count.

Another reason for Chase’s drop-off in production over the last five games is the fact that teams have caught on to his skills and are double-teaming him on a regular basis.

“There are ways to help get (Chase) open,” Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said in a recent interview. “There are things we can do that we tried to do and there are times he’s had plays that we went to him and just didn’t make for whatever reason.”

Still, Chase has made his share of big plays. He stands second in the league with six catches of at least 40 yards, even though his last one came on an 82-yard catch-and-run touchdown against Baltimore in week 7.

His 55 receptions for 958 yards (an average of 17.4 yards per catch) has him fifth in the league, and his eight touchdowns is tied for fourth. But would he like to do more?

It all begins with the basics - like catching the football.

With five games left to play, Chase is sure to get his opportunities to do just that.