TAMPA, Fla. -- Chase Claypool didn't know he was under fire for his play in the Bears' season-opening loss to the Green Bay Packers until his family texted him. He knew his play in the Bears' season opener was subpar, but he didn't view it as the all-out debacle those on social media made it out to be.
“I didn’t know people were dragging me through the mud until my family was texting me and just checking up on me. I was a little confused when they did that," Claypool said Sunday after the Bears' 27-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. "I don’t go on Twitter, it’s just a breeding ground for hate. I know what I need to fix. I don’t think that other people know the game and can tell me what to do. I definitely know exactly what I need to fix and I made sure I did that this week.”
All week, the Bears wide receiver was widely criticized for a lack of effort in the Bears' 38-20 Week 1 loss to the Packers. Claypool didn't address the media, but he met with head coach Matt Eberflus and the Bears' brass immediately after the loss to Green Bay to clear the air and find direction.
“I went to them. I texted them and asked if we could talk just for my own sake and try to find any type of thing that could help me progress the way that I want to and learn from the mistakes the way I want to," Claypool said. "They were good. They told me what they wanted from me, so I made sure I delivered on that throughout the week.”
Claypool admits there were plays against the Packers he wishes he had back. But he doesn't believe his performance against Green Bay was as bad as everyone else made it out to be. Can he be better? Absolutely. But he didn't see it as an indictment of his ability, will to win, or desire to do the little things.
“I think there’s good games and bad games," Claypool said. "I think if you highlight all the bad plays in a game, I think it makes it look worse than it was. I think it’s easy to point out bad things. They get paid a lot of money too, and they are going to make plays. Obviously, those are plays I want back. I want to make all those plays but it’s an unrealistic expectation.”
Claypool spent the week of practice at Halas Hall refocusing and doing what the Bears require. Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said it might have been Claypool's best week of practice.
The week spent refocusing led to Sunday, where Claypool caught three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown in the Bears' loss to the Bucs.
Claypool was far from perfect Sunday. He admits that a critical offensive pass interference penalty late in the game was the product of him thinking the Bears called a run play and not a screen. That penalty backed the Bears up to their own 6-yard line, and quarterback Justin Fields was picked off on a screen pass on the next play, ending the Bears' comeback hopes.
But Claypool saw Sunday's effort as a positive for himself as he looks to find solid footing with the franchise.
“It was a good week," Claypool said. "Lot of lessons learned and a lot of progress made. Going to keep that journey going.”
“It was a step in the right direction," he added. "But I feel like if we’re not winning, it doesn’t really matter. Step in the right direction.”
While Claypool personally might have taken a step in the right direction Sunday, the Bears' offense continues to have a myriad of issues with no quick fix in sight. It starts with more attention to detail and better execution, but don't expect this offense to flip a switch in Week 3.
"I think we have a long way to go," Fields said after the loss. "I think we have a long way to go. But I just think if we keep working, we’ll get there, and I think everybody has to keep that mindset. I think in this position, you can do one of two things, and that’s either lay down, just kind of throw in the towel and kind of say whatever, but I don’t think anybody on the team’s like that. But it’s my job, it’s the coaches job to keep everybody going, keep everybody’s moral up. Like you said, it is a long season, but I mean, we definitely have a lot to fix. Definitely have a lot to get better at, so that’s what we’re going to do, just take it day by day."
If this Bears' offense is going to get out of the muck and start to reach its ceiling, a locked-in and motivated Claypool is necessary.
Sunday can be viewed as a positive sign for Claypool, but the Bears need that to continue throughout the season. The issues that popped up in Week 1 can't reappear if the Bears have any hope of stabilizing their season.