Fields’ sideline message to Claypool shows impressive leadership originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
DETROIT — Chase Claypool, like everyone in a Bears’ uniform, was frustrated Sunday as the Lions embarrassed Chicago 41-10 at Ford Field.
But the third-year wide receiver let his emotions get the best of him late in the blowout loss. After another Bears failed offensive series, Claypool went to the sideline, tossed his helmet on the ground, and had words with wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert.
That’s when quarterback Justin Fields stepped in and calmed his receiver down, showing an impressive amount of leadership for a second-year signal-caller.
“He was frustrated,” Fields said after the loss. “He’s a passionate player. He’s passionate about the game. But I think his emotions – he was just showing his emotions. It’s great to have emotion in the game, you just have to know how to control it. You can’t let it come out like that. At the end of the day, that’s not helping anybody. That’s not helping the team. Everybody is frustrated. We’re getting blown out. Just call it what it is. We got punched in the mouth. Everybody feels that way.”
Fields’ message to the guy brought to the Bears to hopefully become his No. 1 receiver was simple: Be part of the solution. Help me, help us.
“I talked to him like, ‘That’s not going to do anything. That’s not helping anybody. That’s just spreading everybody apart. We need to be here for each other, stick with each other, and fight,'” Fields said. “Not many teams in this league are going to fight the way we did. I just, I don’t know, I’m getting really passionate. It’s like every drive we’re going out and I’m like, ‘Yo, I don’t care what the score is. We’re going to play our hardest.’ They know that I’m doing that. Of course, going back on Chase, he’s passionate but just has to learn how to control those emotions and keep it inside and just know what’s going to be best for the team.”
Claypool received the message and agreed that he needs to be better at harnessing his emotions.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, my fault. I’m just frustrated right now,'” Fields said. “He responded well and I think he learned from that moment and is going to grow from it.”
Claypool’s frustration is understandable.
The third-year receiver talked this week about being aware of the “valuable” pick the Bears traded to acquire him and wanting to make sure that turned out to be a great decision for general manager Ryan Poles.
After missing the past two games with a knee injury, Claypool returned Sunday but was a non-factor in the game. He was targeted once as the Bears’ passing attack struggled to get anything going. Fields went 7-for-21 for 75 yards, one touchdown, and one interception while being harassed and constantly hit by the Lions’ pass rush.
Claypool’s integration into the Bears’ offense hasn’t been seamless. Claypool has caught just 12 passes for 111 yards in six games with the Bears.
It’s hard for receivers to come in midseason, pick up a new offense, and become consistent contributors. That Claypool has been dealing with a knee injury hasn’t helped the process.
Poles traded for Claypool in hopes he could develop into the true No. 1 receiver the Bears’ offense is lacking. Perhaps he turns out to be a good No. 2. Maybe he reaches the ceiling his skill set suggests he has.
But right now, Fields and Claypool have work to do to get on the same page. The work they put in during the offseason will be critical as the Bears look to improve an inept passing attack.
“He’s a hard worker,” Fields said of Claypool. “I know he wants to be great. I think the more time we can spend with each other, the more time we get to know each other, and I told some guys in there, just being able to practice earlier in the week, that just gets me on the same page with him, just seeing how he runs routes, some of the stuff like that. So, of course, we want to get him the ball, but yeah, I mean just being passionate about the game like he is and his want to be great, I think is good for our team, and we’re just going to keep getting better and keep growing and learning.
“By this time next year, we’re rolling,” Fields said later. “I mean it’s a whole offseason. I’m going to link up with him in the offseason. We’re going to get working, and we’re going to keep working, and I just know his passion for the game and know his work ethic, and I know that he wants to be great, so we’re going to get together and work out, and just on the same page in the offseason.”
The Bears need that to come to fruition. As of now, the pick they traded for Claypool is the No. 33 pick in the draft. That’s way too big of a price to pay for a guy who only has 11 catches and needs to be calmed down by his quarterback on the sideline.
Give Fields credit for the leadership he displayed during a blowout loss. That’s a good sign of growth from the young signal-caller.
Perhaps the only faint bright spot in a dismal performance in Detroit.
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