Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receiver Chase Claypool had an excellent rookie season in 2020, in doing so setting or tying a few rookie records. His 62 receptions were the most by a rookie in franchise history. His nine receiving touchdowns and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage also tied records owned by Louis Lipps and Franco Harris, respectively.
That scoring potential got people excited for the future, but he has only scored once so far through his first five games of the 2021 season. He was asked about his scoring output earlier today. “Oh no, I don’t mind how many touchdowns [I score] this year”, he said. “I just want to get the most for that guy who bet on me. But other than that, as long as we get dubs [wins], I’m good”.
There was supposedly one bettor who played a $1000 bet at the start of the season that he would lead the league in touchdowns. Right now, that bet isn’t looking too good, considering Claypool is third on his own team in that category. Diontae Johnson has three touchdowns, while Najee Harris has four—two rushing and two receiving. There are 11 players with five or more receiving touchdowns around the league right now.
Of course, the offense as a whole must do better scoring this year. The Steelers rank 26th in the league in points per game, averaging just 19.5 points so far, while they are allowing 22.0 points against per game. It’s the first time in years, excluding the 2019 season, in which they are on pace to be scored on more than they score. That hasn’t happened since 2003, their last losing season.
Right now, they are sitting at 3-3, but are in a precarious position. If they can’t grow their offense, they’re going to have a hard time finishing above .500, let alone making the playoffs, and winning the division would look like a pipedream.
That would take players like Claypool stepping up more, of course, but it’s more about growth in general, particularly along the offensive line, and in maximizing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s opportunities and trying to limit his mistakes.
Claypool himself has battled injury this year. He already missed one game, as mentioned, and has been limited in others. He was listed as being limited in practice just today with a hamstring injury; one hopes that is merely out of an abundance of caution coming out of the bye week.
I can’t imagine him not getting into the end zone several more times, however, over the next 11 weeks, as long as health isn’t a factor. He just has too much talent and is too much of a mismatch not to find the pylons at least half a dozen times or better per year.