Chase Claypool’s first season in the NFL was one for the record books, at least in terms of Steelers’ history. After tying the Steelers’ record for most touchdowns scored by a rookie wide receiver in a single season with 11, the expectation was there that he could take another step forward in his second season. While that didn’t necessarily happen to the degree he or the Steelers would have hoped, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Claypool isn’t capable. He’ll be the first to admit that it was a mixed bag of results overall in his sophomore year.
“Last season, ups and downs,” said Claypool in a locker room interview on Thursday via Steelers.com. “I know a lot of people are gonna say I was terrible, but there is some good things, some bad things and we learn from the bad things and make the good things better.”
While some might say Claypool’s 2021 season was a complete letdown, that’s not necessarily true. In fact, in two fewer games played, he caught just three fewer passes and finished only 13 receiving yards behind 873 total that he posted his rookie year. Both his yards per reception and yards per game totals went up. The biggest drop in production was touchdowns after catching only two last season. And while Claypool didn’t do himself any favors at times, one has to believe that the offense as a whole probably had a significant, negative effect on the lack of receiving scores.
Plus, Claypool’s game since he entered the league has always been to stretch the field and be a deep threat for an offense that didn’t really have a receiver of his body type until his arrival. Whoever starts at quarterback will have more of a live arm than Ben Roethlisberger did in his final two seasons, meaning Claypool will almost assuredly have every opportunity to improve on a year that probably didn’t quite sit right with him. And for him, there’s not a lack of motivation there, especially when there’s a chance to prove naysayers wrong.
“Yeah, I always try to be the best receiver in the league,” he said. “People spin it like I don’t care and anything, but I do care and I do work my ass off every day and I’ll keep doing that until I’m the best receiver in the league.”
Claypool will be only 24 years old by the time training camp commences in late July. There’s plenty of time for him to bounce back and be the electric wide receiver he knows he can be. With everything hopefully on the path to improving around him, it certainly isn’t the time to give up on him.