untung99.biz: How to fix Chicago Bears WR Chase Claypool

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Few players, if any, are more polarizing in Chicago than Chase Claypool. 

After early peeks of potential as a rookie, the former second round pick out of Notre Dame struggled in 2022, both with the Steelers and the Bears.

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Following his first two seasons where he eclipsed 800 receiving yards, he had just half of that between Pittsburgh and Chicago last season. In fact, after he was traded to the Bears in November, he totaled just 14 catches for 140 yards in seven games.

With 2023 possibly being the last chance for Claypool to prove he can be a viable threat in an NFL offense, I have a solution to his struggles. 

Claypool’s downfield struggles

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During Claypool’s two and a half years in Pittsburgh, the Steelers seemed hell-bent on making Claypool a vertical threat in their offense, despite the evidence consistently showing that’s not what he is. 

In 2021, Claypool was targeted 10-plus yards downfield outside the numbers 29 times — he had 10 receptions. In 2022, he was hardly targeted downfield whatsoever, and didn’t take advantage of those opportunities when they came. On just four targets outside the numbers more than 10 yards downfield, Claypool had one catch. One. Claypool is a physical specimen and has fantastic size, but it’s blatant that both the Steelers and Bears have used those traits incorrectly thus far.

Claypool shines from the slot

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In 2020, Claypool lined up in the slot just 155 times compared to 520 snaps lined up outside. It was more of the same in 2021, with 146 snaps in the slot compared to 655 out wide. 

According to PFF, though, Claypool’s two best games were the two games in which his slot snap percentage was the highest. In 2020, the former second round pick had four touchdowns against the Eagles — he spent a season-high 42.9 percent of his snaps in the slot. In 2021 after JuJu Smith-Schuster went down with injury, the Steelers moved Claypool into the slot — he had his highest percentage of snaps from the slot for the season, caught five passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. 

Claypool can be a reliable target for Justin Fields in 2023 if they utilize him correctly. Make him the big slot guy that eats those underneath yards. No nickel corner in the league will match up with him size wise, especially in the red zone. Claypool’s size should not be used as a guy who can high point jump balls and win downfield — his place at the table should be utilized by getting those dirty yards inside and underneath.