The hate has already gone too far.
Enough with the John Ross hate, it’s gone too far with Bengals fans. Fans tweeting for his benching, to replace him with Josh Malone or Auden Tate, whatever it is, it needs to stop. It is far too early to give up on the 9th overall pick from 2017.
Ross played just 17 snaps last season as a rookie, partly due to injuries but also for losing the coaches trust. His rookie season was basically non-existent. 2018 is basically Ross’s rookie season as a Bengal. It all started out great, as Ross got a lot of camp hype and impressed coaches on a daily basis.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) July 27, 2018
His great camp, along with Tyler Boyd’s development, was so strong they decided to cut veteran Brandon LaFell in favor of younger players. It was a very unusual move for the Bengals who tend to heavily favor vets but it shows just how confident they were in both Ross and Boyd. His good camp continued, getting compliments from coaches and teammates on his good play and about how good he looked coming off such a bad rookie year. Everything looked like it was coming together for a big 2018. His preseason was up and down but we witnessed how great of an athlete he can be.
Do NOT sleep on @WatchJRoss. 🚫😴
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 26, 2018
Yes he also struggled with some drops but being basically a rookie one should expect there to be some bumps in the road. We even see veteran guys like Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and even A.J. Green struggle from time to time.
Ross was quiet in week one versus the Colts, catching one ball for a touchdown. Yet it demonstrated how useful he can be for the Bengals. Adding him as a weapon to pair with an already loaded offense could be the missing piece the Bengals have needed. After a quiet week 2, his preseason hype had died down. It appeared maybe a week 3 breakout was on the horizon against a banged up Carolina secondary.
This is where we catch up to date on the John Ross situation. There was good and bad in this game for Ross. First, the good. Ross saw a career high 7 targets from Andy Dalton against Carolina. After seeing just 6 combined in the first two games it was nice to see Andy start looking his way more. We saw Andy look his way on a third down near the red zone that Ross caught setting up a touchdown. It was not an easy catch but Ross was able to secure it for the first down.
Now the bad. We saw multiple times in this game where Ross and Dalton could not connect. The first was in second quarter when Dalton took a deep shot to Ross near the end zone.
Ross can? pic.twitter.com/dTRKfQgN8S
— Nick Manchester (@NickManchester9) September 24, 2018
The ball appears to be just a bit in front of Ross, of course other camera angles show it was catchable, an incompletion nonetheless on what could’ve been a HUGE gain. The takeaway from this is that it was not Ross’s fault anymore than Daltons. They just could not connect. The next play is on both Dalton and Ross again. Dalton forces a ball towards Ross near the sideline, not exactly a great throw. However, Ross also doesn’t go for the ball as hard as he probably could have resulting in an easy pick for the defense.
Dalton forcefeeds Ross. Not good. pic.twitter.com/DKsEuXW4hL
— Dadio McDuck (@dadiodefacto) September 23, 2018
Again, the mistake is on both of them. The last play is the one that set fans over the edge. Late in the fourth quarter down by a touchdown, the Bengals need a spark to get the drive moving and tie the game. We see Dalton wind up and let the ball fly deep. He is looking for Ross on the play, and as many of you know the ball is picked off.
I don't know, man pic.twitter.com/3d8D1baDgg
— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) September 24, 2018
At first glance, it appears Ross gives up on his route and may have even been running the wrong way. But, if you watch Joe Goodberry’s breakdown of the play, you see it’s possible that Dalton threw the ball to the wrong spot. This doesn’t excuse Ross for giving up on his route, but it still is not all on John Ross. Most of the mistakes he made in this game were not completely his fault. And for those fans wanting Josh Malone in over Ross, Malone also was main the reason for an interception in this game.
The point is, John Ross is still young, basically a rookie trying to adapt to the NFL under a spotlight with gigantic expectations. Some guys like A.J. Green come into the league and are instantly studs, but for some it takes time. Take Tyler Boyd for example, who last year was made inactive at times and looked to have regressed a bit in his 2nd season and now is one of Dalton’s top targets and is playing like a stud. Ross needs time to develop and build that connection with Dalton. Week 4 will be a huge test to see how Ross can handle the criticism he has gotten and bounce back. There is no reason to give up on someone as talented as Ross. He is facing tougher criticism than someone like Boyd did but he is not yet a bust. We also shouldn’t be giving up just yet. Let him prove us wrong by working harder at practice, finishing his routes, and showing us more of what we saw in college at the NFL level.
It is simply too early to give up on John Ross after just 129 pro snaps.
Be sure to follow me on twitter @Pierson242FF and share your Ross thoughts with me. Who Dey!