Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase were a record-setting duo at LSU. Burrow and Chase’s pre-established chemistry together factored into the Cincinnati Bengals’ decision to draft the wide receiver No. 5 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Can the quarterback and wide receiver create the same magic up in Cincinnati?
Early returns indicate the pair are off to a solid start.
“You can tell they’ve played together. Just like you see with Joe now and TB (Tyler Boyd) and Tee (Higgins) after a year of time together playing. They communicate clearly. They know what’s expected on routes and Joe sees their body language. He sees their placement on their leverage and all the things that go along with reading the receiver,” Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said.
“The cool thing is Joe’s done that with Ja’Marr for two years and this is the third year of doing it. They got a good rapport. You can see it and feel it. They know how to communicate with each other. I think that’s exciting for me. They don’t really need to get to know each other. They do know each other.”
Burrow and Chase studied film together during their time at LSU. Their rapport in Baton Rouge helped Burrow win the Heisman Trophy and led to Chase becoming the recipient of the Fred Biletnikoff Award.
Reunited as teammates in Cincinnati, Burrow and Chase have already demonstrated their willingness to spend extra time with each other. The two took extra reps together at OTAs and minicamp.
Chase’s coaches and teammates have complimented the receiver’s ability to adapt to the offense and his fluidity running routes.
“Everybody’s been surprised by how smart he was and I told everyone coming in, ‘he’s not going to bust, he’s going to know exactly what to do, he’s going to be a pro,’ and that’s exactly what’s happened. He’s super smooth on the field,” Burrow said of Chase.
“It doesn’t look like he’s going super hard and guys are coming to me and saying is he going hard? Then we go up against the defense and he looks exactly the same and he’s doing the same, but he’s just at a different speed than everybody else. He’s going to be great for us and he’s a great friend as well.”
Cincinnati reaped the benefits the last time they drafted a wide receiver in the top five.
The No. 5 overall pick is the highest drafted wideout by the Bengals since the team selected A.J. Green No. 4 in the 2011 draft. Green went on to establish a franchise rookie receiving yards record with 1,057 in his inaugural year.
With Green now departed to Arizona, Chase is already plugged in at his predecessor’s starting X receiver position and the rookie isn’t bashful about eyeing the team’s all-time marks. He declared on draft night that he wants to rewrite the Bengals’ receiving records, similar to what he did at LSU.
Early indications are, Chase and Burrow have picked up where they left off. Burrow certainly believes so.
Right back to where it was,” Burrow said of his connection with Chase. “I’m excited about where he’s at. He’s a really smart player that understands what we’re trying to do in the offense. I’m not going to have to tell him what to do every single play. He knows exactly what’s expected of him.”
And it should come as no surprise that Chase agrees with his quarterback.
“I do feel the same way, of course,” Chase said.