We all wanted Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool to be the talk of the town. We should have been careful what we wished for—or at least been more specific. The second-year pro has been a discussion point this season more for what he has done and said between plays or off the field than for what he has done between the whistles.
He drew a good deal of negative attention to himself last week after celebrating a fourth-down conversion with under a minute to go during a two-minute-drill situation. The Steelers were trailing by eight with no timeouts. He had already had a few other miscues early in the game, which even got him briefly benched.
Almost everybody who has spoken to the media this week has been asked about it. The great Joe Greene sounded off on him as well, questioning why he’s even playing the game. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was the most recent to discuss it, and made it clear that the subject is behind them, that it’s been addressed, and that they’re moving on.
“Coach Tomlin certainly addressed all of that directly with him, and those things we handle in our building”, he told reporters yesterday, from the team. “I’ve talked to Chase. He’s a smart person. He understands he can’t do those things, and he’ll make the necessary changes, and we’ll all continue to support him and make sure we’re doing our part as coaches to make sure to educate everybody. Enough was said about that in our room”.
Even with his boneheaded moments—which seemingly included his getting frustrated with lineman Trai Turner after the veteran tried to get the ball from him to set it in play—Claypool did manage to make an impact on the field. He caught eight passes for 93 yards, including some impressive plays. One was a simultaneous catch situation. Later, he wound his body around a defender to field a deep ball that drew a defensive pass interference call.
On the season, he has caught 47 passes for 753 yards with one touchdown in 11 games, missing two due to injury. He has had some lingering injury issues that have likely affected his play at times, and which have cost him some in-game playing time.
But he is clearly in the shadow of Diontae Johnson as the number one receiver on this team. Even with JuJu Smith-Schuster on the Reserve/Injured List, he hasn’t really stepped up in the manner anticipated. But he still has four more games in the regular season to write the story of his 2021 outing. Here’s hoping it won’t be best remembered for a foolish celebration.