Chase Claypool not fully up to speed with Bears offense

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The Bears aren’t going to make the playoffs this year. Justin Fields has already proven that he’s got the goods at quarterback, and the organization should not only be comfortable with Fields leading the way forward, but thrilled that he’ll be the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future.

Matt Eberflus seems to have made great progress laying his H.I.T.S. foundation with the team, and the players have steadily improved playing the style of football that he wants. So at first glance it doesn’t seem like the Bears have many major things to accomplish over the last month of the season. In reality, there is plenty for the team to work on as they wrap up the 2022 season and begin working towards 2023. One of the most important things will be finding a dominant No. 1 wide receiver for Fields and the rest of the offense to flourish, and determining whether Chase Claypool can be that guy.

Ryan Poles traded the Bears’ second-round draft pick to the Steelers for Claypool at this year’s deadline, and considering the team’s lowly record it’s looking like that will be a very valuable pick next spring. Given the price paid to bring in Claypool, one would imagine it would be a high priority around Halas Hall to get Claypool involved quickly. The team did make a concerted effort to get Claypool on the field ASAP, and devised special packages for him to focus on right away.  Just days after Claypool arrived in Chicago, we saw screens and deep shots, and Claypool ended up with a solid six targets in his first game with the team. But his target share never really took off from there, and he only averaged four per game following that debut.

Some of that can be explained by the Bears dedication to running the ball. Some of that can be explained by Claypool continuing to learn Luke Getsy’s system, verbiage and all the details that come with it. So, now that Claypool has played five games with the team, and had a bye week to continue studying and learning and digesting all the information, is he fully up to speed with the offense?

“I wouldn’t say he’s there yet,” Eberflus said. “I would say he’s getting there. He’s getting there and working there just like everybody else. But again, it’s all new to him and there’s a lot of volume of offense that he has to learn and he’s getting there.

“He needs alignment, assignment and get all the things down, the route depths and the routes, the discipline of running the routes. He’s in a good spot. He’s in a good spot. We’re looking forward for him to get better every single week.”

It’s little things like this that make each game moving forward valuable. If the Bears want to compete right away next season, Claypool will almost certainly need to be a significant contributor on offense. Much more than the 2.4 catches for 22.2 yards he's averaged since joining the team. The best way to make that happen will be for Claypool and Fields to have as much time on task together as possible.

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