During the lead up to the Jets' matchup with the Bengals Sunday at MetLife Stadium, the name of one player has been mentioned by Jets starting cornerbacks seemingly more than any other: Ja'Marr Chase.
CBs D.J. Reed and Sauce Gardner have been studying film and preparing for the Pro Bowl wideout and are impressed by his diversified skill set.
"He is the whole package," Gardner said. "He is an explosive receiver. He knows how to make plays, not just catching the ball once he gets the ball in his hands. He is a physical player, and he is just a great all-around player, especially after the catch."
In 2021, the No. 5 pick took the NFL by storm as a rookie. His 1,455 yards – fourth-most in the league – and 13 touchdowns – third-most in the league – earned him the league's Rookie of the Year award and an All-Pro Second Team selection.
On tape, Reed and Gardner have noted Chase's precise route running and his knack for locating and high-pointing the ball. But Chase's ability after the catch sets him apart.Last season, Chase totaled 651 yards after the catch – third-most in the NFL and 8.03 yards on average after a reception.
"He is great after the catch," Reed said. "I think he is very special after the catch, one of those guys similar to Deebo Samuel where if you put the ball in his hands, he just makes the first guy miss and he makes big plays after the catch. Also, I think he has great ball skills like when the ball is in the air. He makes acrobatic catches."
See the top photos from Wednesday's practice leading up to the Bengals game.
His YAC helped create 22 big plays (20+ yards) last season tied for fourth in the NFL. Through two games, the Jets' secondary has allowed 6 passes of 20 yards or more.
To prepare for Chase, Gardner and Reed have emphasized communication in a bid to limit his ability to break a long-gainer.
"You can't over-communicate especially when you're playing away where the crowd is super loud," Reed said. "But even at home, the crowd's going to be loud because we're on defense on. We just got to keep communicating and communicating more, especially with Chase."
Gardner added: "We fix it by communicating throughout practice the whole week. If we do that it is going to translate to the game."
This season, the Bengals offense has gotten off to slow start while averaging 18.5 points per game and lacking those explosives in the pass game. According to PFF, QB Joe Burrow averaged 12.1% of his pass attempts deep (20+ yards) last season. In 2022, he has attempted deep passes on only 7.9% of his throws.
"Got to take some shots," Chase said after the Bengals' week two loss to the Cowboys. "I don't think we took any shots today, for real. That's about it, we didn't take any shots I don't think."
The two Jets' corners did not divulge much regarding their plan against Chase. But in two games, Chase – who leads all RB/WR/TE with 158 offensive snaps in 2022 – has lined up all over the field – 38% snaps at right outside and 36.1% at left outside. Most likely, both corners will be tasked with defending the LSU product.
"He is a great player, but you just got to play with your technique," Gardner said. "Just try to stay in [Chase's] hip pocket. Put yourself closer to the ball so you can make a play. … Luckily, I got a guy like D.J. who could stand on the opposite side of me. It is just cool we could both play both sides and can defend anyone."