Steelers News

Chase Claypool: ‘I’ve Got To Start Making Plays Down The Field’

The only thing more satisfying than success during a campaign is success that is paired with a sustained desire to continue to improve on a daily basis. That is where the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be mentally in 2020 as they look to extend their NFL- and franchise-best nine-game winning streak and try to get to 10-0 on the season with a win on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool in many ways, I think, perhaps embodies that spirit. Even as a second-round pick, he has already had a lot of success as a rookie, catching 35 passes for 500 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has 22 rushing yards and two more touchdowns for nine scores in total.

One thing that has been missing, however, has been a greater success rate in the deep passing game, an area in which there is blame to go around, including himself and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Even though their week two 84-yard touchdown connection remains the longest passing play in the league, their overall performance on deep passes is still a work in progress.

“We’ve been trying to connect downfield and we’ve been just a little bit off”, the rookie wide receiver told ESPN reporter Dianna Russini after Sunday’s game. “I’ve just got to keep making plays, and I’ve got to start making plays down the field, and hopefully we keep it going”.

According to our charting, Roethlisberger targeted Claypool 20-plus yards down the field five times against the Cincinnati Bengals. All of them were incompletions, though one drew a pass interference penalty.

“We left a lot on the table, especially me with the downfield shots”, Claypool admitted. While none were classified as a drop, he had chances to catch one or two of them. “I think there’s a lot left to be had, so we’ve got to keep building every week”.

On the season as a whole, Roethlisberger has targeted the 6’4” rookie 22 times on passes thrown 20 or more yards down the field so far this year. It has only yielded four completions, of 84, 36, 35, and 28 yards, three of which came in the first two weeks of the season, and none in the past four games.

four of those plays technically did not count as official plays, however, because of defensive offside penalties, accumulating a total of 85 yards. At least one or two other incompletions could have been penalties but did not. Two others were thrown because of ‘free play’ opportunities due to defensive offside penalties.

Pro Football Focus has Claypool with 16 ‘official’ targets of 20 or more yards down the field, with four catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns, with one drop, coming against the Dallas Cowboys, presumably on that opening-drive miss that, while a drop, was on a play that should have been flagged for pass interference.

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