Jul 20, 2024  |  
 | Remer,MN
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NextImg:Right time, right place: WR DJ Moore is Bears’ best player as they open vs. Packers

It took a lot for Bears general manager Ryan Poles to part with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and as he weighed his options, the Panthers sweetened their offer with a player he badly needed: wide receiver DJ Moore.

Poles was “over the moon” to get Moore, who averaged more than 1,000 yards his first five seasons and could be a fixture given that he’s only 26 and on a manageable contract the next three seasons. He saw him as a game-changer for quarterback Justin Fields.

Poles was right to be thrilled. Most moves take time to fully assess, but Moore already has been convincing. He has been overwhelming since his first practice.

He’s the Bears’ best player, and he’ll probably be the best player on the field Sunday, when they host the Packers in the season opener. The matchup between him and Packers two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander will be riveting.

As much as the Bears needed Moore, he needed them. His Panthers experience had become wearying. He played with eight starting quarterbacks, and Carolina had a 29-53 record during his time there.

The Bears, meanwhile, are fresh off being the absolute worst team in the NFL, so it’s yet to be determined whether this experience will be better. But Moore has been encouraged by his early work with Fields and believes he got in on the ground floor of something special.

“I came in at the right time,” he told the Sun-Times. “The foundation was set, and now it’s time to add on layers to build the franchise out and take it how far we want to go.”

Moore felt optimistic with the Panthers at times, but those rebuilds faltered, and “you just get stagnant and caught up in the losing. The losing has a trickle-down effect through the locker room, then it’s hard to get out of.”

The Bears have a similar history. Poles and coach Matt Eberflus were hired to finally end that cycle. The best thing they can do in that effort is to develop Fields, and trading for Moore is the most helpful thing the Bears have ever done for him.

Moore, who has proved himself talented enough to produce no matter what’s going on around him, also is versatile.

Deep shots are nice, and he’ll surely beat some cornerbacks down the sideline, but he also can make things easy for Fields by turning screen passes and slants into big gains. And he’s gritty enough to make those catches across the middle and at the sideline to save the Bears on third-and-eight.

Everyone has raved about his chemistry with Fields, which is funny. Yep, it turns out that a really fast receiver who’s always open and catches everything has good chemistry with the quarterback.

“That’s part of it,” offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said. “It’s not the entire thing. It’s the time spent. It’s the mentality of the person off the field as much as it is on the field. He’s been available to Justin as much as anybody.”

Moore was proactive to establish that, and it has transferred into the season. He and Fields stepped aside Friday to go over plays they hadn’t run in practice or wanted to tighten up. That’s a guy Fields can trust.

That should lead to the success everyone is craving. The Bears have been a disaster in Fields’ short career. Moore is in his prime and has never been on a winning team. It’s a perfect fit.

“The whole team atmosphere has been better than I expected,” Moore said. “There’s more hype around it, more people in the locker room that are like, ‘Yeah, this is the year we’re gonna get stuff done.’ With everybody in here talking like that, it brings me up and makes me go to work harder.”