I tried tempering my expectations, but I couldn’t help myself. Dreaming big on what Chase Claypool could do for the Chicago Bears offense was easy. But to this point, Claypool hasn’t been cooking up much since arriving in Chicago. The newest Bears receiver has just 12 catches and 111 receiving yards since joining the squad, which would be a superb performance … if it came in one game. Unfortunately, those are Claypool’s stats over five tilts with the Bears.
You’re probably wondering what gives in this situation. To that end, Head Coach Matt Eberflus tried his hand at explaining, via NBC Sports Chicago:
“I wouldn’t say he’s there yet,” Eberflus said (when asked about Claypool being fully up to speed with the offense. “I would say he’s getting there. He’s getting there and working there just like everybody else. But again, it’s all new to him and there’s a lot of volume of offense that he has to learn and he’s getting there.
“He needs alignment, assignment and get all the things down, the route depths and the routes, the discipline of running the routes. He’s in a good spot. He’s in a good spot. We’re looking forward for him to get better every single week.”
WELP! If you were wondering why Claypool’s Bears career is off to a slow start, the quote above does plenty of heavy lifting in term of explaining what’s going on. And I hate it.
On the one hand, it is troubling that Claypool is still in a learning phase with this offense. And it especially bugs me after hearing former NFL QB Trent Dilfer say he “could learn this offense in 24 hours” back in November. But on the other hand, Claypool’s slow start isn’t much of a surprise. Anyone who has spent any time watching football knows an offense’s intricaies aren’t quickly learned. Moreover, asking a player to jump onto a new team, absorb the offense immediately, and take off just isn’t realistic. Should Claypool be playing better? Sure. There isn’t much of an argument for that one. Then again, we’ve seen him make a handful of splash plays. So it isn’t like he is a total non-factor. It’s just that the difficulties of picking up a new offense, not getting a steady amount of reps early, and the Bears’ other struggles are among the factors conspiring against Claypool’s in-season development.
Here’s the good news in all this: The Bears are coming off a bye. And we just saw how the team used a mini-bye to transform the offense earlier this year. We’ve also seen quarterback Justin Fields show a better grasp of the offense after the time off. And with that in mind, I can see the same happening with Claypool. This four-game stretch is a biggie. I hope he is up for it.