It was critically important that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool make that second-year jump that head coach Mike Tomlin often talks about. Not only for himself but the team — especially after JuJu Smith-Schuster was lost for the season. He had an opportunity to really shine and show the Steelers he was worth the steep second-round draft investment.
Instead, Claypool’s sophomore season has been a destructive one, and he’s regressed from the player he was as a rookie.
Claypool has committed nine accepted penalties, including two costly 15-yarders — a facemask (Bengals) and unnecessary roughness (Vikings) that show a lack of discipline and maturity.
And then there’s the much-talked-about request for music at practice and, most recently, his need to celebrate a first down taking precious time off the clock. The whole fiasco cost the Steelers 17 seconds, plenty of time to take another shot or two at the end zone, and attempt a two-point conversion to take the game into overtime.
Claypool’s comments after the game — pointing the finger at guard Trai Turner — dug the hole even deeper. It’s not a good look for Claypool, and it reflects poorly on the organization.
During his press conference on Tuesday, ESPN’s Brooke Pryor questioned Tomlin about how the coaches addressed Claypool’s actions to avoid it from happening again. As usual, he offered up a softball answer.
“We don’t wait for stuff like that to happen to address it; that’s built in our two-minute teachings and team development,” said Tomlin. “Obviously, he 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 — that can’t happen fast enough for him, and it can’t happen fast enough for us… there’s growth and development that has to take place.”
Claypool seems to think he’s bigger than the game, bigger than the Steelers. And that’s not something that can be coached out of a player — that has to come from within.