Few players have come to symbolize the Chicago Bears’ struggles this season as much as wide receiver Chase Claypool. Interestingly, even he believes that the team is approaching things the wrong way.
Claypool last made headlines for all the wrong reasons, facing significant criticism for his lackluster performance in Week 1. The Bears had acquired the former second-round pick midway through the previous season with high hopes that he would become the primary target for quarterback Justin Fields, especially after the team traded away what turned out to be the No. 32 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, Claypool’s early-season performance could best be described as a collection of lowlights that must be witnessed to be fully appreciated. It was a dismal start to the 2023 season for him. In fact, reports circulated that Claypool had issued an apology to his teammates after the Bears allegedly considered deactivating him for game days or even exploring trade options. While Claypool has shown some improvement since then, he hasn’t yet reached a level where anyone would mistake him for the Bears’ top wide receiver.
When asked on Friday whether he believed the Bears were positioning him “in the best way possible to showcase your full receiving potential,” Claypool took a prolonged pause before responding with a straightforward “No.”
ESPN’s Courtney Cronin subsequently shared a transcript of Claypool’s remarks, revealing that his tone didn’t veer toward the optimistic even following his initial “No” response.
“Would you say it’s not ideal?”
“No, I wouldn’t say that. I think every situation has the ability to be ideal and I think we’re just working towards that. I’m not going to say that. I wouldn’t say it’s not an ideal place for me. Obviously there’s other places — you can say, ‘Oh, I want to be on the best offense with the highest passing yards’ but that doesn’t happen in football. You just have to make due with what you got.”
“What is the best place for them to put you in for you to succeed?”
“You know, I’II let them decide that. I’m not going to give any pointers. That’s their job to decide and l’ll just do what they tell me to do.”
It’s fair to say that Claypool’s honesty shines through in his response. Justin Fields also shared his unsavory opinion on how he’s being utilized. However, the 0-3 Chicago Bears are presently in dire straits, where unvarnished truth may not yield substantial benefits. Even by the Bears’ enduring standards, this season has been nothing short of dismal.
Quarterback Justin Fields, head coach Matt Eberflus, and perhaps even general manager Ryan Poles find themselves under scrutiny regarding their futures in Chicago, unless there’s a significant turnaround.
Once upon a time, Claypool appeared to be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ future star wide receiver, following an impressive rookie season in 2020-21 that saw him amass 873 receiving yards and a total of 11 touchdowns. However, his star has notably dimmed over the past three years, leading us to the current juncture where Claypool ranks sixth in receiving yards on arguably the NFL’s most struggling team.
While it’s unlikely that the Bears’ failure to position Claypool for success is solely responsible for his decline, it’s a matter Claypool himself will need to confront, particularly with his impending free agency in the upcoming spring.