New England Patriots

  • In the past, Bill Belichick has steered away from player comparisons. However, he dropped a pretty notable one during his press conference on Friday.

    During that media availability, Belichick was asked about the challenges presented by Steelers third-year wide receiver Chase Claypool. “Big, fast, really good hands. Big catch radius, he’s kind of always open – it’s like covering a guy like [Rob] Gronkowski.”

    Sorry, like who?


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  • “No matter where you are on him, there’s a place where he can reach and get the ball where you can’t reach and get the ball,” Belichick continued. “They use him in a variety of ways – down the field, catch-and-run plays, hand him the ball, plays and things like that. He’s a big physical player. He can block, block the point of attack, run, hard guy to tackle, downfield receiver as well as a short an intermediate receiver. He can get you in a lot of different ways. Tough matchup.”

    Ok, that does sound a lot like a description of Gronkowski. And it’s not totally inaccurate when it comes to the skillset of Claypool, who is 6-foot-3 and 238 pounds. But it’s very high praise to compare a third-year player to the greatest tight end of all time, considering just how dominant Gronkowski was within that skillset.

    As for Claypool, in 32 career games he’s caught 125 passes on 220 targets for 1,751 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s also run the ball30 times for 4.9 yards per carry with another two scores.

    Perhaps what makes Belichick’s comment stand out even more is that the Steelers’ starting tight end, Newburyport native Pat Freiermuth, has actually been referred to as ‘Baby Gronk’ in the past. However, apparently he’s not the one Belichick sees as Gronk’s Pittsburgh counterpart, at least not as much.

    Expect to see Claypool early and often this week. He had 10 touches in Pittsburgh’s season opener, with four catches on six targets plus another six carries. That was second on the team only behind running back Najee Harris. Given that usage and how Belichick spoke about him on Friday, he should be a if not the focal point of the Patriots’ defensive game plan.

  • Chase Claypool career stats

     
    Game Rec Rec Rec Rec Rec Rec Rush Rush Rush Rush Total Total
    Year Age Tm G Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD 1D Rush Yds TD Y/A Touch Y/Tch
    2020 22 PIT 16 109 62 873 14.1 9 41 10 16 2 1.6 72 12.3
    2021 23 PIT 15 105 59 860 14.6 2 35 14 96 0 6.9 73 13.1
    2022 24 PIT 1 6 4 18 4.5 0 1 6 36 0 6.0 10 5.4
    Career 32 220 125 1751 14.0 11 77 30 148 2 4.9 155 12.3
    Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 9/16/2022.
  • Rob Gronkowski career stats

     
    Game Rec Rec Rec Rec Rec Rec
    Year Age Tm G Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD 1D Awards
    2010 21 NWE 16 59 42 546 13.0 10 30
    2011*+ 22 NWE 16 124 90 1327 14.7 17 69 AP1, PB
    2012* 23 NWE 11 79 55 790 14.4 11 45 PB
    2013 24 NWE 7 66 39 592 15.2 4 31
    2014*+ 25 NWE 15 131 82 1124 13.7 12 60 AP OPoY-5, AP CPoY-1, AP1, PB
    2015*+ 26 NWE 15 120 72 1176 16.3 11 52 AP1, PB
    2016 27 NWE 8 38 25 540 21.6 3 20
    2017*+ 28 NWE 14 105 69 1084 15.7 8 57 AP CPoY-3, AP1, PB
    2018 29 NWE 13 72 47 682 14.5 3 34
    2019 Retired
    2020 31 TAM 16 77 45 623 13.8 7 29
    2021 32 TAM 12 89 55 802 14.6 6 34
    Career 143 960 621 9286 15.0 92 461
    9 yr 9 yr NWE 115 794 521 7861 15.1 79 398
    2 yr 2 yr TAM 28 166 100 1425 14.3 13 63
    Bold indicates league leader
    Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 9/16/2022.
  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.