Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is on a quest for greatness

0 Comments

CINCINNATI — I hear this a lot, or something like it, from family and from friends in the business:

Why do you still go on that training-camp trip? Killing yourself, zipping from camp to camp. You’re 65 now. Cut it back.

This story is why:

What separates the great players from the very good players? I saw it the other day on a lonely field in the Midwest under a summer afternoon broiler, 92 degrees with 85 percent humidity, when the 2021 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year was the only football player at work.

Ja’Marr Chase was the last of 90 players on the field for the AFC champion Bengals on this dog-day Cincinnati afternoon, prepping to catch footballs shot out of a Jugs machine at short range at 40 mph. Chase started catching them with running back Chris Evans providing some distracting defense to make the catches tougher, but then Evans had to hustle inside for a meeting. So now, other than one other Bengal signing autographs 100 yards away for a few fans, and two equipment guys, the place was Bengal-free. Players and coaches were inside the air-conditioned locker room and offices.

Chase now had one problem: He needed a DB to play defense. He saw the stoop-shouldered boss of Bengals.com, Geoff Hobson, waiting for him to finish the drill so he could ask him a few questions. Hobson asked if Chase needed him to play defense.

“If you want to,” Chase said.

In his last football game, the Super Bowl, Chase was guarded by all-world corner Jalen Ramsey.

Now he’d be guarded by a gray-haired 63-year-old scribe who last played football in the Carter administration.

The object of this drill was not only for Chase to work on catching line-drive throws, but to have someone distract him with a tug on the jersey or wave a white Gatorade towel in his face. Hobson grabbed a towel and prepared to distract Chase from catching fastballs from the machine, just eight yards away.

“Wave it in front of my eyes,” Chase told Hobson.

“THWAP!” came the footballs, one after another, shot out of the machine, a Bengals aide handing them to equipment manager Adam Knollman, who fed them into the machine, each ball speeding 24 feet to the orange-gloved Chase. With Hobson fluttering the towel as each line drive zipped toward them, Chase softly hand-caught them, no body involved. Try that sometime.

The oversized rolling garbage can was empty. I called from the sideline: “How many in there?”

Equipment guy: “Well, about 40 in each.”

“I do three of ‘em,” Chase said. Most of the receivers and backs do one of these huge cans.

One hundred twenty balls. Twenty minutes of footballs shot out of a cannon. Hobson fluttering the towel in his face, no words spoken. Once, Hobson succeeded, distracting Chase so the ball clanged off his hands. (“I can tell my grandchildren I broke up a pass intended for Ja’Marr Chase,” Hobson said later.) Chase stopped the drill, ambled 25 yards downfield, picked it up and tossed it back to the assistant helping Knollman feed the machine with ball after ball.

Seemed an odd thing, Chase chasing the errant ball. Let that one go, I thought. Someone will pick it up later.

“Ja’Marr’s different,” Knollman, the equipment guy, said. “If he misses one, he’ll go get it, and the ball gets thrown back to us. He’ll have to do it again. He has to be perfect. He has to catch every one.”

When it was over, Chase took his helmet off. The sweat flowed in rivulets off his head. “Thank you,” he said to the equipment guys. A walk-through hour to get today’s script of plays down, two hours of practice, a five-minute “Get Better” period of catching tennis balls thrown fast, then 20 minutes of this.

We’d talked before practice. I asked him what he’d say to a kid watching this interview.

“Focus on you,” Chase said. “There’s so much you can control. If you want to be great, you’ve got to work at it constantly, every day, even when you’re tired. Gotta know when to push yourself, gotta know when to over-push yourself.”

This was over-pushing himself. It’s his world.

I said to him pre-practice: “You want to be the best, don’t you?”

“That’s my goal,” Chase said.

“No questions?”

“No questions.”

“What about you against [former LSU mate] Justin Jefferson?”

“I’m better than Justin.”

Davante Adams?”

“I don’t know if I’m better … but I watch his film all the time. He told me he watches my film. That’s definitely something to keep me working.”


One day last week, Chase’s receivers coach, Troy Walters, used Powerpoint before practice to put up a quote from Bo Schembechler in the wide receivers meeting room.

EVERY DAY YOU’RE EITHER GETTING BETTER OR YOU’RE GETTING WORSE. YOU NEVER STAY THE SAME.

The same day, at practice, Walters, who has been significant in Chase’s growth and ethos, told him: “If you want to be really great, you need to be fundamentally sound every day, even in our walk-through.” Walters noticed on one route that Chase was supposed to take four steps off the line, but instead he took five. He admonished Chase. For the rest of the walk-through, Chase would look back at Walters after practicing a route, to see if he’d done it perfectly.

Chase credits Walters with pushing him and polishing him. After Chase had one of the best rookie seasons by a player in recent history—81 catches, 1,455 yards, 18.0 yards per catch, 13 TDs, then a rookie-record 368 postseason receiving yards—what happened a year ago in his rookie training camp seems so incongruous. Remember when he was dropping everything in sight last summer? Walters sat Chase down, showed him tape of how great he was at LSU and said, essentially, this too shall pass, and hard work will fix everything.

“We had a heart to heart,” Walters said. “He’s a great player. The word that comes to mind is freakish. But he understands the value of work, and how important it is in his success. I think what happened is he hadn’t played in the [2020] Covid season, and he just had some rust.”

There’s a drill Walters does with Chase that makes a lot of sense. Chase faces a wall. Walters stands behind him. With Chase focused on the wall, Walters throws a tennis ball hard. It bounces off the wall to a different place in Chase’s catch radius each time, and Chase tries to react instantaneously and grab it.

“Hand-eye coordination,” Chase told me. “Reaction in a split-second is crucial to being great.”

I didn’t sense a lot of the-missed-Super Bowl-chance haunts us out of the Bengals. My theory: This team won fortunate dogfights at Tennessee and Kansas City when Ryan Tannehill and Patrick Mahomes threw late picks, and Evan McPherson kicked 95-yard field goals in both games to get Cincinnati to the big game. I didn’t sense that losing to that great defensive front and Matthew Stafford/Cooper Kupp is a nightmare for Cincinnati going forward. For the Bengals to get to a second straight Super Bowl, the retooled offensive line needs to build a better shield around Joe Burrow (72 sacks in 21 games, by far the most in football). Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd combined for 222 catches, 3,374 yards and 24 TDs last year. It’s absurd to just say, Duplicate that, or do better, but the Bengals need a healthy, full dose of their trio to be great again. Because now the rest of the league looks at the Bengals on the schedule as a challenge, not a bye week.

There’s another reason the uber-popular Chase is particularly valuable to the franchise in a time when the Bengals have taken over the local sports scene: perspective beyond his 22 years. The other day, Knollman said to Chase he appreciated him signing autographs for so many kids after practice.

“These people wait a long time for this,” Chase said. “And it doesn’t last forever.”

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

How to watch Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

0 Comments

It’s the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday, October 2 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida–a rematch of Super Bowl LV where Tom Brady earned his seventh ring. Sunday’s matchup marks the sixth meeting between Patrick Mahomes and Brady with the 45-year-old veteran holding a 3-2 edge in the series.

Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch the game.

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: FMIA Week 3 – Broncos’ Coaching Experiment Pays Off, Dolphins Win ‘Beast’ Game, and What We Learned About the NFL in September

Be sure to start your NFL Sunday with Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football Pregame show beginning at 11 AM ET on Peacock and the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) picked up their first loss of the season last Sunday after falling 20-17 to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City struggled offensively in Week 3 as the team was held to just three points in the second half. The Chiefs are still working to fill the void in the passing game since trading star WR Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins in the offseason but according to Mahomes, that doesn’t excuse Sunday’s loss.

RELATED: Patrick Mahomes –  I don’t expect growing pains, offense has to gel together

“I don’t expect any growing pains,” Mahomes told reporters at ESPN.com. “Obviously have new players and you don’t know everybody’s going to respond to tough situations. . . . We’ve got to gel all together. It starts with me. There were certain throws I was putting on guys’ back hips instead of in front of him. There were certain situations where we were just barely off of it.”

Mahomes, who signed a 10-year, $450 million contract extension, in July 2020–the richest contract in American sports history by total value–is in his fifth season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback and hopes to lead Kansas City to its seventh straight AFC West title. The Chiefs are the only team to ever win six consecutive AFC West titles, which is tied for the 3rd-longest division title streak of any team in NFL history.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brady and the Buccaneers (2-1) are also coming off their first loss of the season–a 14-12 defeat at home from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers last Sunday afternoon. With WRs Mike Evans (suspension) and Chris Godwin (hamstring)–Brady’s top two targets–and Julio Jones (knee) out in Week 3, Tampa Bay’s offense racked up a total of just 285 yards in the loss. Additionally, the team is still adapting to the turnover at the WR and TE positions from this offseason. Despite some challenges on offense, Tampa Bay’s defense has remained consistent and currently leads the NFL in scoring defense (9.0 pts/gm) and also ranks in the top 5 in total defense.

RELATED: Todd Bowles asks NFL to explain clock issues on delay of game, says Bucs have to get the snap off


How to watch the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
  • When: Sunday, October 2
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your NFL jersey and gear needs ahead of the 2022 season, click here!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

5 Comments

The 2022 NFL Football season is finally back in session. This Sunday night features a match-up between Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers–a rematch of Super Bowl LV. NBC and Peacock have got you covered with access to this week’s game as well as every Sunday Night Football game this season. See below for the complete 2022 Sunday Night Football schedule and find out how to live stream every game on Peacock.

RELATED: FMIA Week 3 – Broncos’ Coaching Experiment Pays Off, Dolphins Win ‘Beast’ Game, and What We Learned About the NFL in September

This year’s Sunday Night Football coverage will feature Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Melissa Stark on the sidelines. Live coverage begins every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America with the talented group of Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Jason Garrett, Chris Simms, Jac Collinsworth, Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. Berry, a fantasy football industry pioneer, will also appear on Peacock’s exclusive NFL post-game show, Sunday Night Football Final.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

Football Night in America will also feature a weekly segment hosted by Simms and sports betting and Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule:

*Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Sept. 8 (Week 1) – Josh Allen’s four touchdowns power Bills to 31-10 victory over Rams

Sunday, Sept. 11 (Week 1) – Bucs take care of business against Cowboys, who lose Dak Prescott late

Sunday, Sept. 18 (Week 2) Packers roll over Bears 27-10 as Aaron Jones, Preston Smith star

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Week 3) – Broncos do just enough to pull off 11-10 win over 49ers

Sunday, Oct. 2 (Week 4) – Chiefs at Buccaneers

Sunday, Oct. 9 (Week 5) – Bengals at Ravens

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Week 6) – Cowboys at Eagles

Sunday, Oct. 23 (Week 7) – Steelers at Dolphins

Sunday, Oct. 30 (Week 8) – Packers at Bills

Sunday, Nov. 6 (Week 9) – Titans at Chiefs

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Week 10) – Chargers at 49ers

Sunday, Nov. 20 (Week 11) – Bengals at Steelers

Thursday, Nov. 24 (Week 12) – Patriots at Vikings

Sunday, Nov. 27 (Week 12) – Packers at Eagles

Sunday, Dec. 4 (Week 13) – Colts at Cowboys

Sunday, Dec. 11 (Week 14) – Chiefs at Broncos

Sunday, Dec. 18 (Week 15) – Patriots at Raiders

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Week 16) – Buccaneers at Cardinals

Sunday, Jan. 1 (Week 17) – Rams at Chargers

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Week 18) – Matchup TBD

RELATED: How to watch/live stream Chiefs vs Buccaneers game


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

RELATED: PFT’s Week 3 2022 NFL power rankings

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!