The Chicago Bears made what they hoped would be a splash acquisition last season ahead of the trade deadline. They acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, which ended up being No. 32 overall.
While Chicago had high hopes originally, that deal could go down as one of the worst in NFL history. The Steelers used that selection to hopefully fortify their defensive backfield for the long-term, selecting Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. The Bears, on the other hand, could already be done with Chase Claypool.
Chase Claypool had a non-impactful performance in the Bears’ Week 1 loss to the Green Bay Packers. He didn’t catch a pass, as both of his targets went for incompletions. He was one of the worst players on the field for Chicago, receiving a PFF grade of 43.2.
He had a pass play grade of 46.8 and a pass blocking grade of 61.8. But, where the biggest issue was as a run blocker. Chase Claypool received an abysmal 31.0 run-blocking grade, which was last on the team.
When taking a look at some of the “highlights” that went viral on social media, it is actually surprising that he received even a 31 overall grade. His perceived lack of effort led to numerous blown assignments, mucking up the team’s game plan on the ground and with the short passing game. It was something that didn’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff.
“You all saw the plays that … and again, the perimeter blocking needed to improve for all of us,” Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said. “And we’re gonna get that, work hard to get that done.”
Chase Claypool did go to the medical tent twice against the Packers, but Eberflus said that his struggles on the field were not due to being hurt. According to Chicago’s head coach, Chase Claypool looked good in practice leading up to the game, which led to Equanimeous St. Brown being a healthy scratch in Week 1.
That blocking role is one that St. Brown would normally occupy and one he excels in. He drew praise from quarterback Justin Fields for the dirty work that he does when on the field.
“He’s a great run-blocker for us,” Fields said of St. Brown. “He always has been since last year and he knows the playbook like the back of his hand. He’s really smart. I think he’s a leader in the receiver room. So just that part. Perimeter blocking, he’s really good at that. I think that’s probably one thing that we missed. I don’t really make those calls, so not really a question for me.”
While there were more issues than just Chase Claypool that led to the Bears losing in Week 1, he was a big part of their problems. Eberflus hinted that some changes could be on the horizon, as the two receivers could change places in Week 2.
“We’re looking at all possibilities right now,” he said. “I’m not going to talk about who’s going to be up or down for the game right now, for obvious reasons. We’re looking at all things to make our team better — who’s going to be up and who’s going to be down in terms of the active roster.”
The Bears are going to do everything they can to get Chase Claypool on track to justify trading a second-round pick for him. Had such compensation not been involved in the transaction, they would have likely moved on from him already. This isn’t the first time they have had issues with him, as his lack of motivation in the offseason was a major topic of discussion.