Leave it to Justin Fields and Matt Eberflus to Play the Role of Chase Claypool's Hype Man

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Leave it to Justin Fields and Matt Eberflus to Play the Role of Chase Claypool’s Hype Man

Chicago Bears

The Chase Claypool experience wasn’t an enjoyable one last season.

It stunk. And it left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Especially after realizing the cost of acquisition turned out to be the first pick in the second round of last April’s NFL Draft. It gives me the ick just thinking about it.

Even if the cost of doing business was trading pennies on the dollar, Claypool’s performance was still disappointing. There was just no positive return on the investment Ryan Poles made in making that trade with the Steelers. Claypool caught just 14 passes for 140 yards in 7 games after being traded from Pittsburgh to Chicago. Although, in fairness, it is worth pointing out that injuries and limitations due to Claypool trying to learn a new playbook and quarterback on the fly were contributing factors in his post-trade struggles.

But even after a down year, Claypool enters the 2023 season with plenty of vocal support. And that feels important. So much of finding a groove in a new place has to do with having support along the way. A hype man, if you will. Biggie had Puffy. Public Enemy had Flavor Flav. And now, Claypool has Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus and quarterback Justin Fields playing that role for him as he enters Year 2 in Chicago:

This portion of Fields’ quote regarding Claypool’s growth stands out to me the most:

“Chase has improved tremendously from the end of last year to now. That’s one thing I’m truly proud to say. Seeing his work ethic, his attitude change, you can just see he’s taken another step. So I’m definitely excited for that.”

That Claypool has the public vocal backing of arguably the two most important voices at Halas Hall isn’t inconsequential. And when you throw in Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy’s public show of support earlier in the offseason, it is easy to pick up the vibe that these Bears believe we have yet to see Claypool’s best in Chicago. Heck, it almost makes me think that a Claypool revenge tour is on the horizon. That Fields mentions an attitude adjustment as part of this development gives me hope for Claypool’s 2023 season with the Bears.

I can’t look at Chase Claypool, his 6-foot-4 and 238-pound frame, and his early career production (a 62-catch, 873-yard, 9-touchdown rookie season followed by a 59-catch, 680-yard, 2-score sophomore campaign) and think that the version of Claypool the Bears saw first-hand last year is the same one we’ll get in 2023. It can’t be. There is too much talent bottled up in Claypool’s frame for it to be the case. Hence, I keep coming back to this thought: Just because things weren’t working out at the end of last year, that doesn’t mean they can’t work out this year.

Maybe unlocking Claypool’s upside is as simple as getting a full offseason’s worth of familiarity with the playbook, scheme, quarterback, teammates, and coaches. It probably won’t be that simple. But all of that little stuff could add up to something big down the line. And isn’t that one of the reasons we tune into NFL programming every week? Seeing Claypool’s comeback tour unfold in front of our eyes would be one NFL script-writer’s best work. So … who’s up for it?

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.