Sure, I watched last week’s Bears-Lions game. But you’ll have to excuse me if my head wasn’t totally in the game. With that being said, I caught a moment that had me a bit befuddled. But after giving it time to marinate and some newfound context, I think I have a fuller grasp of the situation. And I think it is something we need to discuss.
There was a moment in the game when new receiver Chase Claypool let his emotions get the best of him. After yet another clunker of an offensive series for the Bears, Claypool showed off his frustrations by slamming his helmet on the ground and getting after it with an exchange of words with WRs Coach Tyke Tolbert. Considering that (1) the Bears were boat-raced by the Lions in a 41-10 Detroit win and (2) Claypool was in on just 19 snaps without a target, that set of emotions feels natural. To be clear, I’m not excusing them because you’d rather a player have the self-control to not let that out publicly in that manner. But I’ve always felt there is good that can come from a good vent session. Lord knows I could use one every once in a while.
On Thursday, Claypool explained what he was thinking now that cooler heads have prevailed:
Ah, yes. Clarity.
In that moment, it is easy to think of Claypool’s sideline demeanor as an airing of frustration aimed at Justin Fields’ general direction. Think about it. Fields is just 10-for-18 (55.6%) for 60 yards when targeting Claypool this season. That comes out to a 3.3 yards/attempt and comes with a 62.3 passer rating. Compare it to when Mitchell Trubisky (16/24, 66.7%, 161 yards, 1 TD, 99.5 rating) was targeting Claypool, and it truly drives home Fields’ unsightly stat line when throwing to the newest Bears receiver. But it wasn’t about that stuff in that particular moment. Instead, Claypool explains above that it was big-picture stuff on his mind.
“I was coming off the field, three-and-out, sit on the bench, do the same thing over,” Claypool continued. “Something’s gotta change in that moment. We gotta realize the drives where we have to score. We have to realize when it’s not OK to go three-and-out. We gotta act that way. If we go three-and-out, it can’t just be OK. And it isn’t. But we gotta really have that fire and energy and realize that, yo, it’s time to go. We went three-and-out two times in a row. They’re scoring points. The lead’s getting bigger. What are we gonna do about it?”
At the end of the day, I’m trying to hold onto the silver lining in all of this. And to me, it’s that all Claypool wanted to do was send important messages to his teammates. Firstly, that losing (particularly in this manner) was unacceptable. Secondly, playing with pride at this stage of the season is of the utmost importance. And thirdly, a message that he wants to be part of the turnaround process. Claypool made it known recently that he sees a bright future for the Bears. And that Chicago’s football team playing competitive football next year isn’t some far-fetched idea. But for it to happen, Claypool knows the Bears have to clean some things up to get there. So perhaps his sideline uprising will help nudge the Bears, who are returning next year in the right direction.