Chase Claypool, Nate Davis raise alarm bells for Ryan Poles in Bears’ flop against Packers

By | September 13, 2023

Chase Claypool, Nate Davis raise alarming red flags for Ryan Poles in Bears’ flop against Packers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears were outplayed in almost every way possible by the Green Bay Packers in the season opener at Soldier Field.

They didn’t pressure the quarterback and failed to protect Justin Fields. They couldn’t throw the ball or get off the field on third down. There were huge communication issues in the secondary and the offensive game plan looked like a waste from the start of the 2022 season.

The Bears didn’t execute, they were outplayed and outclassed by their rival.

While everyone deserves some blame for the Week 1 stench, two performances, in particular, should raise huge red flags about their long-term fit with the team and general manager Ryan Poles’ evaluation of pro personnel.

Let’s start with Chase Claypool.

At this point, you’ve seen the compilation of Claypool putting as much effort into running blocking and screen play as a teenager does his weekend chores.

For Claypool to go out with this lackadaisical effort in the first game of a contractual 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 near the money he wants next offseason.

That ship is sailing fast, making the loss the Poles already seemed certain to suffer in the Claypool trade seem to get worse with every snap the wide receiver loiters around like he doesn’t want to be on the field.

Zero catches on two targets aren’t really the problem. This can happen depending on the game plan. But Claypool’s total disdain for his position and total lack of bullshit to give is a troubling issue for a Bears regime that prides itself on the HITS culture and principle.

It has always been troubling that the Steelers, a model franchise that has put up with a lot from talented wide receivers, traded Claypool, with a year and a half left on his contract, for what amounts to a refund on a second-round pick. Smart franchises don’t sell low on second-round picks with two years of production for no 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 he was healthy in training camp.

But Sunday’s performance flushes all that goodwill down the toilet, and it’s starting to look like the Poles are completely fed up with his assessment of the player and the person.

This brings us to red flag #1. 2.

Davis, Nate.

The expensive right guard took the Bears to the bank for a total of three years, $33 million in the offseason. He then proceeded to not show up at OTAs to begin working with his new linemates. That was the first stop sign.

Davis then missed most of training camp due to injury and missed practice before the Packers game for a “personal reason.” Coach Matt Eberflus said that was his only absence for personal reasons. The rest were related to injuries.

Davis was a full participant in less than five padded practices during training camp, and it honestly could have been zero.

That rust showed on Sunday when Davis surrendered nine pressures, received a Pro Football Focus pass blocking grade of 7.2 (yes, out of 100) and was essentially dominated by Devonte Wyatt.

Davis was a terrible pass blocker for the first three years of his career. The fact that he improved in 2022 – a contract year in which the Titans ran the ball less due to injuries – is probably no coincidence.

There’s a chance Davis shakes off the rust and plays much better in Week 2 and moving forward.

But the Bears shelled out over $10 million a year and moved Teven Jenkins (again) to bring in Davis. He didn’t feel the need to show up at OTAs and hit the ground running, he has a less-than-stellar reputation in the place he just left and he was a liability in week one.

Outside of DJ Moore and Tremaine Edmunds, Davis and Claypool are Poles’ two most significant personnel decisions early in his tenure.

One game is too early to overreact. But there are red lights flashing everywhere around two boys that the Poles valued and believed suited his mold and culture.

They may be suitable patterns on paper. That’s neither here nor there. But they don’t appear to be HITS guys, and that’s worrying for a regime that prides itself on finding the right people to start this reconstruction.

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