The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks the fifth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—a new record for the franchise since the merger. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-7-1 and making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from the majority of the offensive line to Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Vince Williams—not to mention Stephon Tuitt, essentially.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2021 season.
Player: Chase Claypool
Experience: 2 Years
As a rookie, in 16 games, Chase Claypool caught 62 passes for 873 yards. This past season, playing in 15 games, he caught 59 passes for 860 yards. In other words, though it might not have always felt that way, his play-to-play production in terms of receptions and receiving yards was pretty much the same. As was his catch rate, for that matter.
What was different was his lack of scoring. He only scored two touchdowns in 2021 after tying a rookie franchise record both for receiving touchdowns and total touchdowns last year with nine receiving and two rushing scores.
While he had dropped passes, the rate at which he dropped them was pretty much on par with what we saw from him as a rookie—not great, but not poor, either. But the thing is, he’s supposed to be progressing, advancing his game. We really didn’t see him take any kind of jump.
The only thing I will say is that he protected the ball this season after fumbling three times the year before. That’s an underrated component of the game for a wide receiver. Even some of the better ones in the game put the ball on the ground more than you might realize.
Particularly disappointing was the fact that Claypool did not improve his performance on deep-ball situations. He came into the league with the reputation of being a jump-ball, combat catcher. While he did make some genuinely fantastic catches this season, there were too many instances where you hope he comes down with it at least 50 percent of the game in which he did not.
And it’s not really clear how you go about ‘fixing’ that. One option is to adapt his role within the offense to focus less on the deep passes, turn him into more of an intermediate target over the middle, which has been successful for him in limited usage. He lacks the elite long speed that would enable him to have more than a few deep targets that aren’t contested, so it might be best to make more efficient use of his skill set.