With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 14 game being on Thursday night, there certainly has been a lot of extra time for wide receiver Chase Claypool to get criticized for his late-contest first-down signaling against the Minnesota Vikings. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked immediately after Thursday’s loss to the Vikings about how Claypool would be dealt with, and during his Tuesday press conference, he was asked again about the second-year wide receiver out of Notre Dame.
As part of Tomlin’s Tuesday questioning about Claypool, Tomlin was asked if he has had a chance to review the tape from Thursday night to see how much time was wasted due to the wide receiver celebrating and signaling his first down-producing reception during the final offensive drive. Tomlin was also asked if he has since addressed that incident further with Claypool and the rest of the team so that things like that don’t happen moving forward.
“You know, we don’t wait for stuff like that to happen to address it,” Tomlin said. “That’s built into our two-minute teachings at team development. And obviously, he [Claypool] had a misstep in that area. He had missteps in other areas. He’s a young guy that’s growing and developing in a lot of ways. It can’t happen fast enough for him, and it can’t happen fast enough for us. We’re gonna continue to push that growth and development as long as he’s a willing participant. He has been. And so, we’re just going to keep moving forward.”
Tomlin went on to apply the growth and development aspect of Claypool with other young players currently on the team.
“That can be said about a lot of guys,” Tomlin said. “You know, these guys don’t come to you as finished products. That’s another component of coaching that I embrace, and we collectively embrace. It’s the reason why that we make what we make and there’s so many of us because these guys are less than finished products. In most instances we get them when we get them. And so, there’s a growth and development that has to take place.
“You guys are witnessing growth and development in Diontae Johnson, not only in quality of play and skills relative to his position, but in maturity. He’s a year older than Chase and so that that’s going on all around us. We’re seeing the pains of growth and development sometimes when young people have to participate. We see inconsistencies in Pressley Harvin’s performance. You know, we’ve had less than ideal plays from Pat [Freiermuth]. But we know that we’re pouring into something in all of those guys and although there’s some short-term negativity associated with the pain and discomfort that they go through in terms of growing and learning and oftentimes it’s negative, we know the benefit individually and collectively of staying on task and them gaining that expertise and experience. And it’s reasonable to expect that some of those hiccups to disappear and some quicker than others.”
The Steelers certainly haven’t gotten the kind of on-the-field contributions out of their second-year players this season that they usually like to and expect to get. To make matters worse, Claypool’s seeming immaturity during the second half of this season has been cause for some concern. Not only did Claypool have his late-game celebration on Thursday night against the Vikings, he also was penalized for essentially taunting early in the game. He was even benched for a few plays by Tomlin because of that early-game penalty.
For whatever it is worth, Claypool did make a few nice catches on Thursday night against the Vikings, so it’s not like he was totally worthless in that game. Even so, it’s time for him to grow up now and learn from all that has transpired with him these last few weeks that has resulted in him being shown in such a poor light.
The Steelers are still in the AFC playoff race with four games remaining, and if they’re going to win at least three of those remaining contests, they’ll need solid play out of Claypool and several other of the younger players on the roster right now.
A big game from Claypool on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans will go a long way in helping everyone forget all that has transpired negatively the last few weeks with the young wide receiver. We’ll now wait and see if Tomlin’s Tuesday message to Claypool and others is received, starting Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.