A key component to the success of the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals has received praise from just about anyone who has seen him play football. After a rough preseason, it was made apparent from Game 1 of the regular season that Ja’Marr Chase was going to be an impact player more often than not.
If you ask offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, it seems that he was aware of that long before Joe Burrow connected with him on that long touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings. Callahan made that very clear when speaking to the media recently.
“I would have to argue that Ja’Marr would be up there,” Callahan said on Tuesday via Cincinnati Bengals Talk. ”He really would. For a guy who in college produced at a high level and then came into the NFL and produced at really the same type of level, that’s a pretty remarkable impact player. We all felt it would be like that. He probably even exceeded most of those expectations. Ja’Marr is one of the best on tape football players from college that translated to being a pretty hellacious pro.”
It took less than one half of a football game for the debate between picking Chase or Penei Sewell in the 2021 NFL Draft to begin quieting from the fans and the media, but nothing indicates that there was much debate among the coaches and front office.
Toward the end of October, Chase had a bit of a cool-off period, as defensive coordinators started to game plan for Chase’s big play ability, but that just lead to the other talented wide receivers on the roster making an impact. Granted, the weeks where Chase wasn’t at his best did include a loss to the Mike White and Josh Johnson-lead New York Jets, followed by a thrashing at home by the Cleveland Browns. Looking back at the season, the Bengals went as Chase did more often than not.
When it comes to defenses scrambling to contain Chase, Callahan mentioned how quickly Chase gained the respect of players and coaches in the league.
“He’s that good. And I think he’s even gained a lot of people’s respect on the other side of the ball because he’s so strong, and he’s so fast, and sometimes it doesn’t look like it because you watch him play (and) it’s so easy for him. But he’s earned respect across the league because a lot of people feel like he’s in that conversation and will be for a long time.”
The entire NFL world knows Chase now. There will be no surprising opposing teams with what he can do. Some may think that would lead to the dreaded sophomore slump, but let’s remember one thing — There will be fewer surprises for defenses to throw his way now that he has a full NFL season under his belt.
“Uno,” as they call him arrived quickly, and he appears to be here to stay.