Bears’ Justin Fields Sounds Off on Chase Claypool’s ‘Attitude Change’

Fields Claypool Attitude Change

Getty Bears quarterback Justin Fields has seen a shift in wide receiver Chase Claypool since 2022.

The Chicago Bears’ offseason is still young, but Justin Fields is already seeing a shift in wide receiver Chase Claypool from where he was at the end of 2022.

Fields was asked about Claypool after May 23’s second OTA practice and raved about the amount of improvement he has seen from the Bears’ fourth-year wide receiver since his first half-season in Chicago. Specifically, Fields said he’s seen a change in Claypool’s “work ethic” and “attitude” from where he was last year when the regular season ended.

“Chase has improved tremendously just from the end of last year to now,” Fields said Tuesday. “Just see his work ethic, his attitude change, you can just he’s taken another step, so definitely excited for that. And we don’t even have [Darnell] Mooney right now in practice, so once we get him back, it’s gonna be awesome, so [I’m] very excited.”

Claypool was put in a difficult spot when the Bears traded for him at the November 1 deadline last season. The 2020 second-round pick had quality experience from his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his arrival in Chicago meant trying to pick up a new offensive system in the middle of the season. He and Fields also both dealt with late-season injuries that made building chemistry more difficult for them.

With a full offseason under his belt, though, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus confirmed he has seen a change in Claypool’s “comfort level” with their playbook and offense.

“I do, I do, because him the second time going around, he knows the formations, the motions and knows the route disciplines,” Eberflus said May 23. “He’s learning that as we go, and you can certainly see him getting more comfortable adjusting, too.”

Chase Claypool Entering Make-or-Break Year in 2023

Fields Claypool Attitude1

GettyBears wide receiver Chase Claypool is entering the final year of his contract in 2023.

The impact of the Claypool trade wasn’t nearly as substantial as the Bears were hoping it would be when they shipped a second-round draft choice to the Steelers for him at the trade deadline. Rather than offering Fields an immediate upgrade at the receiver position, he managed to catch just 14 of his 29 targets for a measly 140 yards and zero touchdowns over seven games and even fumbled one of the receptions away.

Claypool also had a sideline meltdown during Week 17’s blowout loss to the Detroit Lions that featured him slamming his helmet onto the ground and shouting at wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert; although, Fields defended him as being “passionate.”

Luckily for him, Bears general manager Ryan Poles insists there is no trader’s remorse over his decision to add Claypool, even after the pick turned out to be No. 32 overall.

“I told Chase — and we had a really good conversation — I’m not blinking at that one at all,” Poles said. “I think he’s going to help us moving forward and I’m excited about it.”

Claypool likely understands that Poles’ confidence comes with urgency, though. He is heading into the final year of his rookie contract, and even with some good seasons on record with the Steelers, has done little on the field since arriving in Chicago to justify an extension from them after the 2023 season. To make things more challenging, he will also be vying for a new contract at the same time as Mooney — who has done far more in his three seasons with the Bears to earn consideration for a long-term deal.

If Claypool wants to last in Chicago, he could need a career year for the Bears in 2023.

Claypool Getting More Reps With Mooney Sidelined

The Bears did not have Mooney — their top wide receiver of the past two seasons — at their first two practices of OTAs as he continues to work back from last year’s season-ending ankle injury. In the meantime, Claypool will have a greater opportunity to get in on-field reps with Fields and further establish himself as an improved weapon.

The time without Mooney can also help the other newcomers to the receiver room, D.J. Moore and fourth-round rookie Tyler Scott. Fields said he linked with Moore during the offseason and got to know him better as a person, but practice time will be essential for them to build trust and learn each other’s tendencies when making plays, especially with Moore set to be the new No. 1 receiver in the Bears offense.

For Scott, the learning process is still ongoing having been drafted less than a month ago. The more time that he can spend putting what he’s learned into practice, though, the better chances he has of being able to develop at a faster rate (or at least to show the Bears coaches what he is capable of bringing to the table for them in 2023).