Chase Claypool caught flak for his frustrated outburst on the sideline during the Chicago Bears’ loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 17, but quarterback Justin Fields recognizes that “emotion” can still be harnessed into a weapon for their offense once the 2020 second-round receiver gets a full offseason under his belt.
Late in the 41-10 loss on Sunday, Claypool went to the sideline in visible frustration following another failed third-down play and threw his helmet on the ground before shouting at Bears wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. Fields, however, took the initiative as a leader and pulled him aside for a talk about keeping his emotions in check.
“Yeah, he was frustrated,” Fields said after the game. “He’s a passionate player. He’s passionate about the game. … He was just showing his emotion. It’s great to have emotion in the game, but you have to know how to control it. You can’t let it come out like that because, at the end of the day, that’s not helping anybody. That’s not helping the team.”
It was a frustrating day across the board for the Bears, who struggled on defense to stop the Lions from exerting their will and sputtered on offense after getting 10 points on their first two drives. For his part in it, Claypool finished the game with zero catches and received just one target despite Fields attempting 21 passes on the afternoon; although, Fields was sacked seven times and finished with just seven completions.
“Everybody’s frustrated,” Fields continued about Claypool’s outburst. “We’re getting blown out. Just call it what it is. We got punched in the mouth. Everybody feels that way. We talked to him. I talked to him. That’s not going to do anything. That’s not helping anybody. That’s just spreading everybody apart. We need to be here for each other, stick with each other and fight. Not many teams in this league are going to fight the way we did. I don’t know. I’m getting really passionate. But just like, every drive, we were getting blown out and I’m like, ‘Yo, I don’t care what the scoreboard is. We’re going to go out there, we’re going to play our hardest.’ They know that I’m doing that. Going back on Chase, he’s passionate. Just has to learn how to control those emotions and keep them inside and know what’s going to be best for the team.”
Fields Praises Claypool’s Response, Touts Potential
The people who want to be negative about Claypool are going to read his outburst as a sign that the Bears made the wrong decision in trading for him, but Fields was actually proud of how Claypool responded to their sideline talk and believes it could be a moment that allows him to grow into a better player for their team.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, my fault. I’m just frustrated right now,'” Fields said of Claypool’s response to their talk. “He responded well and I think he learned from that moment and is just going to grow from it.”
The discussions about Claypool in the months since his trade have been increasingly anxious for Bears fans. He has been on Chicago’s roster since Week 9, but he has only caught 12 passes for 111 yards in six games, missing two games with a knee injury. Nobody would blame the Bears if they felt a little bit of buyer’s remorse after seeing such dismal early returns, especially knowing they traded what will likely be either the No. 32 or No. 33 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft to Pittsburgh to land him.
After a year of running Luke Getsy’s offensive system, though, Fields understands how difficult it can be to pick it up midway through the season. He also knows from last year how important it can be for a quarterback and his wide receivers to link up in the offseason and work on building better chemistry before the next season arrives.
“Y’all got to keep in mind, he came in the middle of the season,” Fields said. “It’s hard to learn an offense like this in the middle of the season, and I think he’s done a good job with that, but by this time next year, we’re rolling. It’s a whole offseason [ahead of us]. I’m going to link up with him in the offseason and we’re going to get some work in and we’re going to keep working. I just know his passion for the game and know his work ethic and I know that he wants to be great, so we’re going to get together and work out and get on that same page.”
Poles Remains High on Claypool’s Promise for 2023
Fields isn’t wrong about Claypool and the offense. While some are already rushing to write off Claypool’s potential for Chicago, it will be fairer to judge once he has had an entire offseason to dive into the playbook and work on building a better connection with his quarterback. Claypool — a 2020 second-rounder — will also be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2023, which could light a fire beneath him as he prepares for the ultimate “prove-it” season with the Bears.
And that seems to be exactly what Bears general manager Ryan Poles is banking on.
“I love his ambition,” Poles said of Claypool in his Week 17 pregame interview with WBBM Newsradio, via Bears. com. “He’s an aggressive kid. He plays the game the right way and I love his mentality just in terms of he wants to be the best. I’m really looking for him and a lot of the guys working with Justin not only now, but in the offseason to create that chemistry, so again we can elevate off this foundation that we’ve built this year.