Analyzing the Bears Under-Usage of Chase Claypool

This past Tuesday marked five weeks since the NFL trade deadline; that means it has been over a month since the Chicago Bears acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since then, Claypool has not exactly garnered much attention in the Bears’ offense, catching 12 of his 22 targets for 111 yards and no touchdowns. The Bears obviously like Claypool — they traded away a probable top-40 pick in the upcoming draft to acquire the third-year receiver. Thus, this begs the question: Why hasn’t Chase Claypool been more involved in the Bears’ offense?

The most likely answer for Claypool’s lack of usage is his skillset. The former Notre Dame receiver has never been an incredibly talented route runner. Instead, his 6’4,” 238 lb. frame and top-end speed make him a skillful deep ball receiver, able to make contested catches far down the field. A deep threat like Claypool is essential to any successful offense, and he is, in theory, a great complement to the other receivers on the Bears’ roster (especially the now-injured Darnell Mooney). However, it’s hard to maximize Claypool’s skillset on a team with awful pass protection. As of Week 13, the Bears rank 21st in pass block win rate, and watching game film makes the line look even worse than that. Quarterback Justin Fields is constantly being hurried and pressured whenever he drops back to pass. Because of this, it’s difficult for the offense to let deep passing routes develop, thus preventing the Bears from tailoring the offense to Claypool’s primary strength.

We know that Justin Fields has the ability to hit receivers downfield; just look at the 56-yard strike he threw to Equanimeous St. Brown last week against the Packers. Come next year, when the Bears (fingers crossed) have an improved offensive line, Chase Claypool should become much more involved in the Bears’ offense. Until then, hopefully the bye week allows Fields and Claypool to develop some more passing game chemistry.
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