Over the last few years, Cincinnati Bengals coaches have made a point to get Ja’Marr Chase in the slot more and otherwise move him around to create mismatches.
That has amplified even more this season as Cincinnati responds to adapting defenses and Joe Burrow’s calf injury.
As expertly broken down by Yahoo Sports’ Nate Tice, Chase’s depth of target is shorter than ever but he’s working out of the slot more:
Cincinnati is also having Chase work from the slot at a more frequent clip through five weeks. And the results have been promising. Chase has aligned in the slot on 27.6% of his snaps this season and has been targeted 22 times on those plays, the latter number already bettering his rookie-year mark of 19.
This includes running from the third spot in the “trips” formation (third in from the sideline), which usually features a position like tight end, greatly expanding the types of routes Chase can run.
Per Tice, Chase has nine catches for six first downs from that spot through just five games.
So while it has been easy to hit the Bengals coaching staff for the struggles to adapt the offense well around Burrow’s injury initially, there are some very good things happening, chief among those Chase’s expanding usage.