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Ja’Marr Chase’s football IQ may be biggest key to early success in NFL

Ja’Marr Chase already has coaches and teammates talking about how ahead of the game he is for a rookie.

Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Cincinnati Bengals fans have heard all summer how great of a talent wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is. We all saw what he did when paired with Joe Burrow at LSU in 2019.

However, one thing no one outside of his teammates and coaches get to see off the field is how well-prepared he is.

“I’ve been really impressed with how quickly he has picked it up, how easily it makes sense to him. He’s got a really high football IQ. Some rookies you are concerned with overloading them...just give them a little package and ease them into it. Ja’Marr hasn’t been that way at all,” Taylor said of his promising rookie. “He’s all over (receivers coach) Troy Walters..making sure he’s always getting extra, and they have had a great relationship started.”

It usually isn’t an ability gap that keeps rookie wide receivers from adjusting to the NFL. Often times it comes down to them being put into system they understand so they can just go out and play football rather than having to think about what they are supposed to do. From Taylor’s comments, it doesn’t appear like that will be a concern for Chase. It also helps that the Bengals’ offense has been built around what Burrow and Chase had plenty of success doing at LSU.

Still, Chase’s understanding goes beyond that. He also says he owes his deeper understanding to Burrow helping him understand how to go farther when breaking down tape.

“I used to just sit there and watch myself, try to critique myself, but Joe actually gave me the in’s and out’s of watching film when I was younger,” Chase told reporters. “It plays a part now. It’s just having that want, you have to want to study your plays, and I feel like that’s something that everyone needs to do.”

You can see that in action as he broke down why he and Burrow have struggled to connect a couple of times deep downfield.

“I had two go balls. I dropped one of them and the other one was under thrown,” Chase said. “I would probably say [corners] sit a lot more [in the NFL]. I feel like they sit a lot more and I feel like they know what’s coming just where I’m lining up so that’s on my part to make sure all my routes look a like.”

That illustrates a deeper understanding that you hear from guys with years of experience. It is safe to say that Cincinnati got a very talented receiver who also understands the X’s and O’s of the offense already. He still has to work on somethings, but it really seems like between Chase and Burrow that this team could find success sooner than most other young combinations. Also that they have quite a bright future ahead of them.

“He is a really smart player. People don’t give him enough credit for that,” Burrow told reporters. “I’m not going to have to tell him what to do every play. He is a really smart guy who’s in the playbook who understands his role.”