Bears WR Chase Claypool takes ‘step in right direction’ vs. Buccaneers after turbulent week

Claypool had three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown in the 27-17 loss.

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A photo of Chase Claypool catching a touchdown pass.

Claypool caught this touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to give the Bears a shot at the end.

Getty

TAMPA, Fla. — Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool’s performance in the season opener was so bad that he spent part of the week apologizing to coaches and teammates and promising to do better.

He was confident he delivered on that promise against the Buccaneers on Sunday despite an ugly 27-17 loss in which the passing attack sputtered again. Claypool caught three passes for 36 yards, including his first touchdown in nine games as a Bear.

“It was a good week — a lot of lessons learned and a lot of progress made,” he said in his first comments since catching no passes and having glaring lapses in blocking against the Packers. “Gonna keep that journey going.”

He added that this game was “a step in the right direction, but if we’re not winning, it doesn’t really matter.”

Claypool became the symbol of the Bears’ discouraging opener, and coach Matt Eberflus was noncommittal on whether he’d be active against the Buccaneers.

He bristled at fans and media “dragging me through the mud,” but he clearly caught some criticism within Halas Hall, as well. Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said effort was part of the equation for Claypool’s shortfalls against Green Bay, and general manager Ryan Poles hinted at consequences on the team-produced pre-game show.

No one has more at stake in this situation than Claypool, a pending free agent, but Poles is a close second. As of now, Poles sending the No. 32 overall pick to the Steelers for Claypool last season is his biggest whiff since taking over the team.

“There’s a standard of how we’re gonna play football here, [and] if you can’t rise to that standard and live in that space, it’s going to be hard to perform for the Chicago Bears,” Poles said in an interview that ESPN 1000 aired Sunday. “He’s a guy that has all the motivation in the world to be a good football player. He’s gotta clean some things up. We had some good conversations.

“I expect to see him make those changes. If he doesn’t, then we’ll have to figure out what we’re gonna do after that.”

The Bears built their blueprint for the season expecting Claypool to be a big part of the offense with fellow wide receivers DJ Moore and Darnell Mooney. When he started slowly after the trade last season, the Bears defended him by saying it was difficult to learn a new offense midseason.

Claypool said he initiated conversations with Bears coaches about how he played in the Packers game and what needed to change. He wasn’t interested in hearing any opinions from outside the building.

“I don’t need other people who think they know the game to tell me what I need to do,” he said. “I definitely know exactly what I need to fix, and I made sure I did that.”

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