If you haven’t read Patrick’s piece about how that the Chase Claypool experience hasn’t been working doesn’t mean it won’t work in the long run, then you should change that. Because, yes, Claypool’s production has been disappointing since arriving in November at the NFL’s trade deadline. However, Claypool’s struggles fitting into the offense remind me of Darnell Mooney’s struggles in the early going. So while I don’t want to make excuses for a player who should be performing better, it is easy to grasp why a player is struggling if you take a step back.
With that being said, I’m encouraged by something Claypool told Bears radio voice Jeff Joniak in a recent interview.
Joniak sits down weekly with Bears players for profile pieces that go on the team’s YouTube page. And in his most recent interview, Joniak was chopping it up with Claypool. During the chat session, Claypool expressed a bit of optimism regarding the Bears’ future:
“We’re going to be such a good football team next year. People can look at this team and say ‘rebuild team’ and that it takes a couple of years. And we’ve been so close to so many wins. One possession games or the last possession of the game having a chance to win it. Once we get those core pieces and the younger guys get a little bit older, things start to get a little bit easier. So … I’m excited. I’m really excited.”
Claypool makes some astute observations with his commentary. This Bears team has had eight games decided by eight points or fewer. They have won just one of those games. Imagine if Chicago could flip the script and be 7-1 in those games. How would we be looking at this team? Heck, how would the future look if the Bears were able to flip three or four of those losses?
I think the outlook around this team would be a little rosier than it is now. But then again, the allure of a top-four pick gets my heart pumping. Adding a potential impact player might be more valuable than the positive vibes that would’ve come from beating the Commanders, Lions, or Falcons.
Ultimately, this team is on the cusp of finishing with a 3-14 record. And that could land GM Ryan Poles the No. 1 overall pick if the ball bounces the Bears’ way. The combination of strong draft capital and the possibility of being more than $100 million under the cap represents a reason for hope. It might be a glimmer of hope, but Jyn Erso once taught us that rebellions are built on hope. And it doesn’t have to happen all at once. But this is a crucial offseason. One in which the Bears can make moves to position themselves to make a run at the playoffs next year. No, seriously.
It might seem far-fetched to think that way right now. But there are three 8-8 teams in each conference battling for a last playoff spot going into Week 18. So is it really that out of pocket to think the Bears could be there at this Tim next year?
Don’t get me wrong. I understand how this season has played out makes it easy to be down on this team. I get it. But Claypool’s optimism is the message I needed to hear regarding this team’s future. Things might look bleak now, but they don’t have to be that way forever.
Can we just hit the sim playoffs button and get to the offseason like it was a Madden franchise mode?
You can watch the entire Joniak interview with Claypool here: