After a 26-snap appetizer in Chase Claypool’s debut against the Dolphins, we were looking forward to seeing more of the newest Bears wide receiver a week later against the Lions.
Instead, here’s what we were treated to in terms of wide receiver snap counts from Sunday’s loss to the Lions:
- 53: Darnell Mooney
- 31: Equanimeous St. Brown
- 27: Dante Pettis
- 20: Byron Pringle
- 19: Chase Claypool
WELP, much for getting more Claypool in his second game with the Bears.
Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus had an explanation when meeting with reporters on Monday:
“Yeah, I think it was 19 snaps, I think he had two targets on the day,” Eberflus told reporters, as transcribed by NBC Sports Chicago. “But a lot of times, he’s the primary and they’re covering that, you go to the secondary. Getsy and I visited about that this morning and that’s pretty much what it was.”
It’s good that Eberflus and Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy were able to hash things out after the dust settled. But that is too little, too late for my liking. Better late than never? Perhaps. But never late is better. I learned that helpful life anecdote while listening to a Drake song.
On Wednesday, quarterback Justin Fields tried his hand at giving Claypool’s decrease in playing time some perspective:
Hey now! I can appreciate that Fields is doing his part to get Claypool up to speed. And I’m digging that Claypool is putting in the extra work with Fields. Hopefully, we’ll get to see the results play out in the Bears’ favor when the two are on the field starting this Sunday against the Falcons.
HOWEVA, I’m not totally on board with slow-playing Claypool’s development (which it seems the Bears are doing due to how they’ve handled his rollout over the first two weeks)
On the one hand, I understand how difficult it is to incorporate a receiver in the middle of a season. Getting Claypool up to speed with a new playbook and on the same page with the third different quarterback he’ll be catching passes from this season feels like a sizeable task. So I understand why they Bears could slow-play his development. It’s just hard to comprehend why they’d do it so aggressively. Remember, the Bears spent what projects to be the 37th pick overall pick in the upcoming draft. So there should be a desire to get Claypool incorporated and on a roll. And immediately, too.
For what it’s worth, Claypool understands the balance the Bears are trying to strike with the new receiver.
“I was prepared to be more involved,” Claypool said, via The Athletic. “But I’m not expecting too much right now, being that, you know, I just got here. I think me having a full understanding of the playbook will help the (offensive coordinator), and I’m pretty close to that. So I think in the next couple weeks, it won’t be a problem. So I’m not frustrated at all or expecting anything in terms of playing time. As long as we can win, I’ll be fine. But we got to win first.”
With understanding comes knowledge. And with knowledge comes power. Ideally, Claypool will be empowered and inspired when he gets the chance with more practice reps and game snaps.
Maybe that increase in playing time is coming this week. No, seriously. For real this time:
I hope this is a last first step toward giving Claypool a full set of game reps. He has too much talent to be on a pitch count. And there is too much untapped potential for Claypool to be receiving fewer snaps than Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle, and Dante Pettis. Don’t get me wrong. I understand why the Bears are proceeding with caution. It’s just that it is OK to sometimes throw caution to the wind. Having a 6-4, 230-pound pass-catching machine feels like one of those times where it is OK to cut loose.