It’s rare for college football standouts to immediately replicate their success at the NFL level. It’s even rarer when that happens with multiple teammates on the same team.
So what does that mean for the connection between Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase? The former LSU teammates and standouts haven’t missed a beat in their sophomore and rookie seasons with the Bengals, recreating a deadly connection that dogged SEC defenses during the 2019 College Football Playoffs championship season. the Tigers.
Bottom line, Burrow and Chase are stars, whether they’re college or pro is immaterial. The fact that they have been able to continue their incredible chemistry is a testament not only to their individual talent, but also to the relationship they built in Baton Rouge as part of a record-breaking offense.
Burrow has already broken the Bengals’ franchise record with 4,611 passing yards in 2021, a record originally set by former Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton in 2013 (4,293 yards). Burrow’s favorite target to break that record has been Chase, who leads the 2021 Bengals in targets (128), receptions (82), receiving yards (1,455) and touchdown receptions (13).
Incidentally, Chase’s single-season mark of 1,455 yards also breaks some notable records: the NFL rookie single-season receiving record (previously 1,400 yards, set by Vikings receiver and former NFL standout LSU Justin Jefferson in 2020) and the Bengals’ single-player record. season record (previously 1,440 yards, set by Chad Johnson in 2007).
Burrow and Chase look like the next great quarterback-receiver duo in the NFL. But you can’t fully appreciate what they’re doing now until you see how, and where, they started. With that, Sporting News heads back to college to watch the duo’s time at LSU:
Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase Stats LSU
Burrow combined to complete 621 of 906 passes (68.5 percent) for 8,565 yards and 76 yards for 11 interceptions in two seasons at LSU. Most of those stats come from his record-breaking 2019 season, in which he completed 402 passes for 5,761 yards and 60 touchdowns with just six interceptions.
Chase, a freshman when Burrow transferred from Ohio State to LSU in 2018, had a combined 107 receptions for 2,093 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns, also in the 2018 and ’19 seasons (he opted out of the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic). Like his quarterback, Chase enjoyed an explosive 2019 campaign in which he had 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and a team-leading 20 touchdowns.
Interestingly, Chase only caught passes from Burrow in his college career. Backup quarterback Myles Brennan combined to complete 28 of 46 passes for 418 yards and a touchdown for an interception in 2018 and 2019, but none went to Chase. The only other player to complete a pass during those seasons besides Burrow was running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who completed an 11-yard pass against Texas A&M in 2018.
In all, Chase accounted for 17.2 percent of Burrow’s career completions at LSU; 24.4 percent of his career yards; and 30.2 percent of his career touchdowns. Those numbers become even more impressive when you focus on just the 2019 season: 20.8 of his receptions; 31.3 percent of his yards; and 33.3 percent shooting.
College football records of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase
Naturally, the Burrow-Chase connection at LSU produced several school, SEC, and national records. Below are the records both players helped set the other during their two seasons together:
Ja’Marr Chase Single Season Records
- 2019: 20 receiving touchdowns (SEC record)
- 2019: 1,780 receiving yards (SEC record)
Chase’s single-season SEC records were broken a season later, when Alabama’s DeVonta Smith had 1,856 receiving yards and 23 receiving touchdowns in 2020.
Joe Burrow Single Season Records
- 2019: 60 touchdown passes (NCAA record)
- 2019: 65 total touchdowns (NCAA record)
- 2019: 402 completions (SEC record)
- 2019: 527 attempts (SEC record)
- 2019: 5,671 passing yards (SEC record)
- 2019: 76.3 completion percentage (SEC registration)
- 2019: 6,039 total yards (SEC record)
- 2019: 402.6 total yards per game (SEC record)
- 2019: 642 total views (SEC record)
Joe Burrow single game records
- Eight touchdowns responsible for (SEC single-game record, vs. Oklahoma)
- Seven touchdown passes (SEC single-game record, vs. Oklahoma)
Burrow still enjoys many of the records he set at LSU in 2019, with only two usurped since leaving for the NFL. Alabama quarterback Mac Jones set the SEC single-season record for completion percentage (77.3 percent) in 2020. The following season, Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe broke the SEC single-season record. Burrow’s NCAA for passing touchdowns, with 62. He also tied his NCAA record for total touchdowns in a season (65).
Why did the Bengals draft Ja’Marr Chase over Penei Sewell?
Many expected the Bengals to select a position of necessity in the 2021 NFL Draft: offensive tackle. The move made sense for several reasons, one of which is Burrow suffered a season-ending torn ACL and MCL after taking a hit in the backfield of the Bengals’ game against the Washington football team. The injury occurred during Week 11 of the 2020 NFL season; by the time he was injured, he had been sacked 32 times. Only Russell Wilson (33) of the Seahawks and Carson Wentz (40) of the Eagles had taken more at that point in the season.
Plus, the Bengals were in prime position to land Penei Sewell from Oregon, the top offensive tackle in the draft, with the fifth overall pick. Following the selection of quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance with the top three picks in the draft, only Atlanta stood in the way of the Bengals getting their man. The Falcons ultimately drafted Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.
So the Bengals had a choice to make: go with an offensive tackle, a needy position, or pair Burrow with one of their favorite LSU targets?
Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan admitted that the Bengals viewed Sewell, Pitts and Chase as clearly the best prospects available at the time they could pick. for the Bengalis:
“After quarterbacks, we feel like we ended up looking at the top three players in the draft,” Callahan said. “Those guys were a little bit above what was coming next and they’re going to be good players. But those guys are elite. The best at their position… It’s not an easy decision. We’ve been going back and forth with these guys.” .
Burrow’s relationship with Chase helped inform the Bengals’ decision to draft him, especially during a season in which the wide receiver produced no recordings and had interviews with teams limited to Zoom calls. Callahan also considered Chase, who had shown notable success against future NFL corners including Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, one of the best receiving talents in recent memory.
“He ended up being a guy that can make a difference in our offense. He’s so explosive,” Callahan says. “To me, he’s the best wide receiver to come out in the last three years. He’s worthy of that spot that guys like AJ (Green) and Julio (Jones) were drafted into. It’s hard to pass up that kind of talent.”