Without question the biggest move of the Bears offseason was trading away the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a boat load of other picks, plus DJ Moore. The dynamic wide receiver was a key part of the deal, and the idea was he would not only elevate the offense as a whole, but he would also help Justin Fields take the next step forward in his development. The Bears admitted they weren’t able to get a complete evaluation on Fields in 2022, but thought the addition of Moore– paired with upgrades on the offensive line– would give Fields enough playmakers and eliminate any excuses moving forward.
Early in the offseason program it looked like the Moore trade was the deal of the decade for the team. He and Fields connected early and often, from OTAs to training camp. When Moore turned a simple screen into a 62-yard touchdown in the team’s first preseason game, folks around Chicago took it as proof positive that he and Fields were going to be an instant hit.
But as we know now, that preseason moment was like most preseason moments: pretty meaningless. When the lights came on for real in Week 1, Moore was stymied.
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Moore finished the day with only two targets, which he turned into two catches for 25 yards. Interestingly, those two targets came on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. For the rest of the game, the ball never came his way.
After the game, Moore said he wasn’t surprised with the way things turned out, even though he had a big summer.
“It’s football,” Moore said. “The defense was kinda pushed over to me. It was hard to see me and I understand that. We just gotta learn from it and move on.”
The slow start of the season is reminiscent of Darnell Mooney’s debut as WR1 last season. Just like Moore, Mooney had a big training camp and word was his chemistry with Fields was off the charts. But on Sundays Fields couldn’t find Mooney at all. Through the first three weeks of the season, Mooney only had four catches for 27 yards.
That can’t happen again.
The Bears invested too much in Moore to only get the ball in his hands twice. They can’t simply run their offense and not throw the ball his way because he’s drawing a lot of defensive attention. Moore will always draw a lot of defensive attention. The Bears are going to need to scheme up ways to get the ball into his hands, regardless of what the defense does or shows. It doesn’t matter whether that’s by moving the pocket to buy Fields time, moving Moore around the field or finding ways to pick defenders to help him get open. It just needs to happen, somehow, some way.
“His time is going to come,” said Fields. “It’s just kind of how the chips fall. He’s not going to go for 100 (yards) every game. I wish he did, but that’s just not how it’s going to happen. He’s definitely going to get more touches in the future, for sure.”