Entering the 2020 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base was a bit down knowing they didn’t possess a first round draft pick. That pick was shipped to the Miami Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick. There was no regret with the trade for Fitzpatrick, but not having a first round pick had many wondering if the organization could find an impact player in the second round, or later.
The Steelers certainly found an impact player with their first pick when they selected Chase Claypool out of Notre Dame, and fans got to watch Claypool dominate opponents throughout his rookie season.
What can fans expect of Claypool and the Steelers’ offense in 2021? Claypool recently sat down with BTSC’s own Bryan Anthony Davis to talk about everything from the city of Pittsburgh to those haters who aren’t giving the Steelers a shot this season.
One of the most poignant answers Claypool gave was when he was asked about the difference between Randy Fichtner’s offense to the current offense under Matt Canada. While fans bemoan Fichtner’s time with the Steelers, Claypool doesn’t see the drastic differences between Fichtner and Canada’s systems.
“Even though the offense is similar in the sense we are trying to use the same words, to reduce that learning curve, we have a lot more tags to put people into different position, motions, stuff like that to disguise what we’re doing.” Claypool said.
“Last year we got caught up in doing the same thing, and making it look the same towards the second half of the year. So, I think just disguising our plays and different formations is the biggest difference.”
In 2021 Claypool has a full year under his belt with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and he understands how important that is, not just for him but the entire offense.
“He’s a veteran and be here for a super long time.” Claypool added. “He makes everyone around him better, and it easier to learn. He makes that learning curve a little bit easier. Having a guy you can build off of, and take some of his knowledge apply it is super important, especially for a long season like this one.”
Having Roethlisberger throwing him passes certainly is something which will help improve Claypool’s production, and the Steelers’ offense, but it isn’t as if he doesn’t have aspects of his game he can’t improve upon. In fact, Claypool knows exactly what he wants to improve upon heading into this 2021 season.
“Just execution.” Claypool said on how he needs to improve. “Doing some of the things, the little things, well. If it’s alignment, when to look for a ball. The little nuances. Always working on route running, and make that as best as it possibly can be.”
One aspect of the Steelers’ 2021 offense is the infusion of rookies. When you think about Dan Moore Jr. slated to start at left tackle in Week 1, Kendrick Green the starting center, Najee Harris carrying the football and Pat Freiermuth being used frequently the Steelers are brimming with youth on the offensive side of the football. Claypool sees this as a positive.
“Pat [Freiermuth] already proved what he can do, and I’m going to speak for the offensive guys.” said Claypool. “KG [Kendrick Green] speaks for himself, his effort after the play is really cool. He really wants to finish people and get as many pancakes as he can. Najee [Harris] has also proven what he can do, in just a quarter or half of a game. I’m really excited to see them.”
As for the doubters, the haters and those experts who are counting the Steelers out. Claypool wasn’t about to divulge why he thinks the Steelers will be better than most are expecting, but he did advise others how the Steelers could surprise people this year.
“I think a lot of people are counting us out before the season, but I think with the schedule we have, the hardest schedule in the league based on winning percentage last year, that’s a big reason.
“This team is going to surprise people. There are some position units people are counting out I’ve seen in practice which are doing really well. I think we’re going to surprise people.”
The Steelers will be relying on Claypool, and the rest of the offense, to go out and perform at a high level, if not, it could mean the doubters and haters predicted the Steelers’ demise could be correct.
We want to thank Claypool, as a part of Pepsi, for taking the time to speak with us, we appreciate his time and are looking forward to what he is going to bring to the Steelers’ offense in 2021.
To hear the full interview with Chase Claypool and Bryan Anthony Davis, check out the audio below: