After getting off to a slow start to their season following an incredible run to the Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Bengals have won four of their past five games. While their recent success has been impressive, Cincinnati’s future will be greatly impacted by the absence of Ja’Marr Chase for what could be up to six weeks.
According to Adam Schefter, Chase is dealing with a hip injury that could require the 2021 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year to go on injured reserve. If the Bengals do decide to place their superstar receiver on IR, he would be out a minimum of four weeks.
Chase initially hurt the hip in Week 6 against New Orleans but managed to fight through the pain and suit up last week. Playing hurt, Chase still had eight catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Yet, he was not able to practice this week.
Playing it safe, without Chase’s ailment naturally improving on its own, the team will now shut him down for a bit while he can see a hip specialist to better understand his condition.
Bengals will turn to Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins in Ja’Marr Chase’s absence
No matter what, Chase will likely be sidelined through Cincinnati’s Week 10 bye. If the four-week minimum is accurate, Chase may not be back in action until a Week 12 matchup with Tennessee in the final week of November. But that’s on the positive side.
- Ja’Marr Chase stats: 47 receptions, 605 receiving yards, 6 TD catches
If Chase is looking at a six-week or longer absence, then Joe Burrow could be without his leading receiver through Week 13, placing Chase on track to possibly return on Dec. 11 against Cleveland.
No matter what, Burrow and the Bengals will have to rely on their other receivers to create more explosive plays. We saw the first evidence of that in Week 7 against Atlanta when Tyler Boyd went off for 155 receiving yards on eight receptions.
While Burrow likes to spread the ball around to his weapons as is, if the Bengals want to continue rolling out three-receiver sets, Mike Thomas or Stanley Morgan Jr. will have to step up. So far, both have combined for two catches on nine targets this season, compiling 38 yards.
The Bengals may not feature as much of a high-scoring passing attack while Chase is out of the lineup, but they still have several talented skill position players and could certainly opt to increase Joe Mixon’s usage as well.
Still, with Higgins and Boyd both having exactly 455 receiving yards apiece, don’t expect Cincinnati’s passing offense to completely disintegrate without the field-stretching Chase able to go. How coach Zac Taylor takes it from here could directly have a major effect on how the Bengals’ season goes after a 4-3 start.