Chase Claypool, Nate Davis raise alarming red flags for Ryan Poles in Bears’ flop vs. Packers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Bears were beaten in almost every way possible by the Green Bay Packers in the season opener at Soldier Field.
They didn’t pressure the quarterback and couldn’t protect Justin Fields. They couldn’t run the ball or get off the field on third down. There were massive miscommunications in the secondary, and the offensive game plan looked like a reject from the beginning of the 2022 season.
The Bears didn’t execute, were outcoached, and outclassed by their rival.
While everyone deserves some blame for the Week 1 stinker, two performances, in particular, should raise massive red flags about their long-term fit with the team and general manager Ryan Poles’ pro personnel evaluation.
Let’s start with Chase Claypool.
By now, you’ve seen the compilation of Claypool giving as much effort to block in the run and screen game as a teenager gives doing his weekend chores.
For Claypool to come out with this lackadaisical effort in the first game of a contract season is indefensible. The Bears traded the No. 32 overall pick in the 2023 draft for Claypool and are the only team that will give him anywhere close to the money he wants next offseason.
That ship is quickly sailing, making the loss Poles already seemed guaranteed to take on the Claypool trade look worse with every snap in which the wide receiver loafs around like he doesn’t want to be on the field.
The zero catches on two targets aren’t really the problem. That can happen based on the game plan. But Claypool’s complete disregard for his assignment and total lack of f–ks to give is a concerning issue for a Bears regime that prides itself on culture and buy-in on the H.I.T.S principle.
It was always concerning that the Steelers, a model franchise that has put up with a lot from talented wide receivers, traded Claypool, with 1.5 years left on his deal, for what amounts to a refund in a second-round pick. Smart franchises don’t sell low on second-round picks with two years of production without a reason.
Claypool shouldn’t have been expected to contribute last season. He worked diligently in the offseason to learn the playbook and develop chemistry with Fields. He was one of the Bears’ best players when healthy in training camp.
But Sunday’s performance flushes all that goodwill down the toilet, and it’s beginning to look like Poles completely whiffed on his evaluation of the player and person.
That brings us to red flag No. 2.
The high-priced right guard took the Bears to the bank to the tune of three years, $33 million in the offseason. He then proceeded not to show up to OTAs to start gelling with his new linemates. That was the first stop sign.
Davis then missed the bulk of training camp with an injury and missed practice in the lead-up to the Packers game for a “personal reason.” Head coach Matt Eberflus said that was the only absence for personal reasons. The rest were injury-related.
Davis was a full participant in less than five padded practices during training camp, and it honestly might have been zero.
That rust showed Sunday when Davis surrendered nine pressures, received a Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade of 7.2 (yes, out of 100), and was basically dominated by Devonte Wyatt.
Davis was a poor pass blocker for the first three years of his career. That he improved in 2022 — a contract year in which the Titans threw the ball less due to injuries — probably isn’t a coincidence.
There’s a chance Davis knocks off the rust and plays much better in Week 2 and moving forward.
But the Bears forked over $10 million a year and moved Teven Jenkins (again) to bring in Davis. He didn’t feel the need to show up to OTAs and hit the ground running, has a less-than-stellar reputation at the place he just left, and was a liability in Week 1.
Outside of DJ Moore and Tremaine Edmunds, Davis and Claypool are Poles’ two most significant pro-personnel decisions early in his tenure.
One game is too early to overreact. But there are flashing red signs everywhere around two guys Poles evaluated and believed fit his scheme and culture.
They might be scheme fits on paper. That’s neither here nor there. But they don’t appear to be H.I.T.S guys, and that’s concerning for a regime that prides itself on finding the right guys to start this rebuild.
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