How Bears will get Claypool up to speed in offense before debut


LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chase Claypool has been in Chicago just over 24 hours, but the Bears plan for him to take the field Sunday when they host the Miami Dolphins at Soldier Field.

It will be an intense process for Claypool, who the Bears acquired Tuesday from the Pittsburgh Steelers, to digest the Bears' playbook in four days. But the Bears have a few methods to help the 24-year-old receiver with the tall task in front of him. 

"The COVID year kind of did some really cool things in the sense of how to prepare somebody," offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Thursday. "This guy is out, and then you have to have somebody kind of out of nowhere playing in the game. So, we have some really cool tools to help him learn what he needs to learn quickly with not having a coach with him for 24 hours a day.

"So. I think he’ll be OK. We’ll make sure that he’s ready to rock and roll for whatever his role might be come Sunday."

Claypool's education in the Bears' offense started the second he landed in Chicago. Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and his assistant Omar Young will be crucial in accelerating Claypool's growth in the system.

"Omar took Chase by himself to get him caught up on formations, shifts, motions, and stuff," Tolbert said Thursday. "Because when you know how to line up, he's a smart enough guy to know what the play concept is. A lot of teams run the same concepts, but when you know how to line up and how to shift in motion, that's the most important thing. "

The bulk of Claypool's studying will come with his iPad and whatever other technological tricks the Bears have up their sleeve that Getsy wouldn't divulge.

But that's just the start. Studying the playbook and actually understanding the intricate nature of Getsy's attack are two different things.

That's where Claypool's new running mate comes in.

"I told him yesterday, like, this playbook is pretty difficult," Darnell Mooney told NBC Sports Chicago. "The words in it, like sometimes it doesn't make any sense, you got to put it into your own thought process. I was like, 'anything you need, I'm helping you. I don't know how they were in Pittsburgh, I don't know how they were in Notre Dame with Cole, like I'll help you regardless of what you think. I'll help you for sure.'"

Getsy's offense is incredibly complex. The Bears' passing attack made several errors early in the season as they tried to go from novice to expert. There were alignment problems, pre-snap issues, route imprecisions. You name it, the Bears' offense messed it up.

They've gotten much crisper over the past month as Getsy's terminology becomes second nature.

With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Bears know Claypool faces an uphill climb to get on the same page as everyone else. They'll be patient with his growth in the playbook and in developing chemistry with quarterback Justin Fields.

The decision to trade a 2023 second-round pick for Claypool was about life after 2022.

“Yeah, I think we’re just going to let it play out. Let it play out," head coach Matt Eberflus said Wednesday. "I think it will go where it will go. How fast does his pick up information? How fast does he gel with the other receivers, with the quarterback? And we expect really good things from that. We’re excited to have Chase. Obviously, he’s a heck of an athlete, a big target and we’re excited about that.”

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Even if it takes Claypool time to get ramped up in the offense, the Bears should be able to integrate what the 24-year-old receiver does best.

"I mean he's fast, he's athletic," Fields said of Claypool. "Big build. He's big, fast and of course he's a great receiver. Just throw it to him, I guess. Let it fly."

Fields said he would stay after practice with Claypool and let him run routes. Fields, Mooney, and tight end Cole Kmet have volunteered to help Claypool with the playbook. Getsy and the staff will use all the technology at their disposal to get their new weapon operational.

Fields and Claypool were working long after practice and meetings Thursday. That work hasn't stopped since Claypool arrived.

"As soon as his plane touched down, they went to work," quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said of Fields and Claypool on Thursday evening. "You hope to see results sooner rather than later but guys have to learn to work with each other.

"They are out there working right now, so hopefully we'll see it real soon."

It will be a group effort to get Claypool ready to roll for his Bears debut against the Dolphins. The Bears will give him a handful of plays they know he can execute. The game script will dictate how many of those plays are used in the game.

Getting Claypool's feet wet in the offense is the first step. Then, the fun begins.

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