Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja'Marr Chase set a rookie record with 1,455 receiving yards in 2021 while leading the NFL with seven deep receiving TDs.
The wideout was a menace on the outside, but the Bengals plan to diversify his portfolio entering Year 2. Wide receiver coach Troy Walters said the club plans to move him to the slot more and even use Chase in a Deebo Samuel-type role out of the backfield.
"He's going to be all over the field," Walters said Tuesday, via the team's official website. "We're going to use him as many ways as we can. He's a quick learner ... That's what great players want to do. They want to play everywhere.
"They understand the value of moving around and how you stress defenses sometimes in the slot. You don't want defenses to focus on you. He's embraced that challenge. Just find a way to create mismatches."
As a rookie, Chase spent the overwhelming majority of his reps on the outside. Per Next Gen Stats, the wideout was wide on 749 snaps (84%), with just 123 (14%) from the slot, 15 (2%) tight, and seven (1%) in the backfield. It wasn't just that Chase was split wide for the bulk of his snaps, but he also mostly stuck to the left side -- 458 snaps (51%).
The big-play wideout is embracing moving around more in 2022.
"It's going to make our offense more explosive," Chase said. "If we sit in there like robots and stay in the same position, they're going to expect what's coming. That's why you move around."
The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year is bound to see more double coverage in Year 2, with defensive intent on taking away the big play. To combat that, the Bengals will smartly shift him around to make defenses adjust on the fly.
"It gives me more space to get open. The majority of the time, the middle of the field is open and you get matched up on a linebacker or safety," Chase said. "If I'm inside, I've got to adjust to different techniques of the nickel, the safety, the linebacker, knowing when I need to cross his face, knowing when not to."
Chase enjoyed an epic rookie season, but the ceiling is higher for the talented wideout. Finding more ways to get him the ball from different locations will make it that much harder for defenses to combat the Bengals' explosive offense in 2022.
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