Few teams have done more to help their young quarterback this offseason than the Chicago Bears.
Beyond trading back from the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, to potentially take an elite offensive tackle or game-changing defensive talent, Bears general manager Ryan Poles plucked dynamic wide receiver D.J. Moore from the Carolina Panthers in the trade. Likewise, Poles added a significant upgrade to the offensive line, inking guard Nate Davis to help keep Fields upright.
Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young, Fields’ former teammate at Ohio State, believed even before the Bears’ flurry of impactful additions that the 24-year-old was on the cusp of taking his place among the game’s premier quarterbacks.
“You’ve got to understand, I’ve seen Justin since he transferred into Ohio State,” Young said on Heavy Sports’ The Matt Lombardo Show, appearing on behalf of New Balance. “He ran a 4.37 [40-yard dash], and everyone was blown away. He’s a hard worker, he pays attention to detail, and he wants to be great. You can’t really teach that.”
Last season, Fields seemingly gained confidence and comfort in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s scheme as the 2022 campaign wore on. Fields completed a career-best 60.4% of his passes for 2,242 yards with 17 touchdowns to 11 interceptions in 2022, while showcasing his ability as a prolific runner out of the pocket, adding a team-high 1,143 rushing yards and 8 more scores.
The Key to Justin Fields Taking Next Step in 2023
It’s hard to quantify just how meaningful the addition of Moore will be both in terms of Fields’ evolution as a passer, as well as the potential of the Bears’ offense.
Despite Fields’ growth as a runner and the fact that he was downright electrifying to watch each Sunday, the Bears still limped home with the league’s worst record, at 3-14, with the NFL’s 32nd-ranked passing defense.
Enter, Moore. And, maybe more.
Moore caught 63 passes while dropping only 3, despite wildly inconsistent quarterback play for the Carolina Panthers in 2022 Panthers signal-callers posted an 86.5 passer rating on Moore’s 109 targets, which he converted for 888 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Dropping Moore into Fields’ arsenal alongside emerging playmaker Darnell Mooney, who is returning from injury, and Chase Claypool, is a solid foundation in Chicago’s receiving corps.
“D.J. Moore is an extremely talented big-play receiver,” an NFL coach recently told Heavy. “He’s going to help Justin Fields tremendously.”
Poles might not be done adding talent around Fields, either.
Fields has advocated for Ohio State standout Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and the Bears recently hosted Smith-Njigba on a visit, as the NFL draft nears.
At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Smith-Njigba has the tools to be in the conversation as the top receiver in this year’s class.
The combination of another season in Getsy’s scheme, the arrival of a game-altering talent at wide receiver, and Fields’ athletic ability set the stage for the Bears to perhaps fill the void left behind by marquee quarterback departures in the NFC such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Jimmy Garoppolo.
“Justin is one of those guys who wants to be great,” Young explains. “He’s just going to keep getting better, and better each year.”
Chase Young joined The Matt Lombardo Show on behalf of New Balance. As the first American Football athlete in the brand’s history, Young will work closely with the brand’s design team to develop the brand’s first-ever American football cleat that will launch in 2024.