Not Ja'Marr - Say It Ain't So


Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


The polar ice caps might be melting, inflation might be through the roof, and the world might be on the brink of nuclear war, but it feels like the biggest disaster on Earth right now is Ja’Marr Chase going down with a hip injury.


It had to be a hip injury, didn’t it? By all indications, this isn’t a long-term, or even season-ending injury. But a hip injury. Why did it have to be a hip?


I don’t mean to immediately go to the worst-case scenario, but I’m reminded of an AFC Divisional playoff game when then-Oakland Raider Mr. “Bo Knows” Jackson was tackled by a Bengals defender. Jackson’s hip was fractured and dislocated, and Bo’s football career was over.


Chase’s career is not over. There’s no pending surgery. With rehab, he should expect a full recovery. The Bengals season, though, and their playoff ambitions, could be on the brink.


Again, I don’t mean to immediately go to the worst-case scenario. At this moment, Chase hasn’t even been placed on injured reserve. And even if he is, he’s eligible to return after four games. That said, these next four games are a crucial stretch for this team.


On Monday night, the Bengals will travel to Cleveland. They haven’t beaten the Browns in two years. After losing their first two divisional games of the season, the Bengals really can’t afford to start 0 - 3.


From there, they return to Cincinnati to face the Carolina Panthers. Now, the Panthers are widely considered to be one of the worst teams in the NFL, and a team that’s in the middle of a total teardown, but don’t let that fool you: Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just paid the price for taking the Panthers lightly.


After facing Carolina, the Bengals head on the road for two weeks. First, they travel to Pittsburgh, and I don’t need to remind you how Round One turned out. Oh, and by the way, 2021 Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt should be healthy and raring to go.


Then, the Bengals travel to Nashville to face the Tennessee Titans, and you can be sure the Titans are licking their chops to get a chance to avenge their Divisional Round loss to the Bengals in the playoffs last year.


Here’s the rub: this is the easy stretch for the Bengals. After Tennessee, the Bengals return to Paycor Stadium to face ol’ Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. How’s that for a homecoming?


Losing Chase for these games is a massive blow. These four games were a perfect opportunity to gain some ground in the playoff race and to make up for those early-season blemishes. Now, it’s going to be all hands-on deck just to keep their head above water.


That said, the Bengals have the weapons to withstand this brutal loss, though it might require some serious adaptation. But hey, adapt or die, right?


Hey, Tee Higgins, we’ve been hearing an awful lot about how you’re also a #1 wide receiver in the NFL. Here’s your chance to show everyone how good you can be as the top dog. Joe Burrow needs you to be that go-to guy in crunch time.


Hey, Tyler Boyd, you’re the longest tenured player on this roster, remember when you were the only threatening receiver on the team? This offense is going to need you to reach back to those days when everything fell on your shoulders.


Hey, Joe Mixon, you remember those days with Boyd too, right? This coaching staff needs its workhorse to help carry the burden.


Hey Hayden Hurst, I know you’re new here, but you’ve fit in, and you're poised to be a real weapon in the passing game. You’ve been waiting for that opportunity to show everyone why the Baltimore Ravens drafted you before Lamar Jackson in the same draft class. This is your moment.


Most of all, though, the Bengals have Burrow. If there’s one thing we know about our quarterback, it’s that he’s not going to quit, no matter the odds, no matter how battered or bruised or beaten down he or his teammates are. Most of Burrow’s success as a pro has come with his college teammate wreaking havoc on defenses, but now, Burrow gets a chance to remind everyone that he’s plenty good in his own right.


It all comes down to Burrow, but doesn’t that feel fitting? I love Ja’Marr Chase. He’s Mr. Electric. Let’s let him rest, rehab, and return. Losing him for any period of time is a blow that would make almost any team crumble. But the Bengals have Burrow, and he’s a different kind of cat.

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