Ryan Poles’ decision to trade the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers on Friday afternoon will go down as one of the biggest trades in Chicago Bears history — and maybe the most important move Poles will ever make as a general manager.
Not often does an organization get the opportunity to control the draft, but Poles decided the move down to No. 9 along with acquiring additional draft capital (a 2023 second-rounder, a 2024 first-rounder and 2025 second-rounder) and wide receiver DJ Moore were worth moving on from the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Even though the draft picks are a good addition for Poles’ team, it’s Moore that really makes this an excellent trade.
Let’s take a look at how Moore can make an immediate impact for the Bears’ offense in 2023.
Best Game in 2022: Week 8 at Atlanta
In a 37-34 loss to the Falcons, Moore finished with six receptions on 11 targets for 152 yards and a touchdown. And let me tell you this, he should’ve finished with well over 200 receiving yards and easily could’ve had three touchdowns if there had been better quarterback play.
In 2022, Moore caught passes from Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, PJ Walker and Jacob Eason. Now Moore has Justin Fields as his quarterback and that should help prevent what happened against Atlanta from occurring again.
Before showing some of those missed plays, here is a good example of what Moore can do when his quarterback does his part.
On third-and-5 from the Panthers’ 30-yard line, Moore lined up in the slot from a stacked alignment. The outside receiver runs vertical on the numbers and Moore patiently follows his teammate. The defensive back, who is playing off and inside, follows but is beat badly inside once Moore breaks on the slant route. Easy 29-yard pick up on third down.
On the next play to start the fourth quarter, Moore showed off his footwork and precise route running on a deep out route for a 16-yard gain. The cornerback was lined up three yards off and on Moore’s outside shoulder, so he needed to sell the route like he was going vertical or inside to get the defensive back to wheel turn and did so perfectly on this rep.
Moore also helped the Panthers’ offense even when he wasn’t targeted on specific plays. There were a few times in this game when the Falcons decided to double-team him. One of the times it worked on a third-and-10 and the defense forced a punt.
In the fourth quarter, though, with Carolina down 24-21, Moore grabbed the attention of two Falcons defenders and made life easier for his fellow receiver. Now envision this same scenario but for Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool or even Velus Jones Jr.
If you remember how this game ended, Moore also had the game-tying 62-yard touchdown catch with 12 seconds left on the clock, which made up for his big drop on fourth down on the previous series. He was penalized for removing his helmet after the touchdown reception, and former Bears kicker Eddy Piñeiro missed the extra point from 48 yards. The Panthers went on to lose in overtime.
But if the Panthers had executed better on a few plays, they probably wouldn’t have been in the situation in the first place. For example, on a first-and-10 on the Falcons’ 24-yard line in the third quarter, Walker underthrew Moore after he ran a nice route from the slot. If that ball is placed further out, it’s a touchdown.
Here is one more missed opportunity that could’ve resulted in points. The Panthers tried a deep shot on first-and-10 early in the game. Walker had time and Moore got behind the cornerback and the safety was late getting over. But the ball was overthrown.
At the end of the play, you can see Moore let out some frustration.
Despite the Panthers failing to capitalize on some big-play opportunities, Moore still showcased what he can add to an offense. Defenses will devote extra attention his way. He can create yards after the catch. And he is capable of making explosive plays happen at any point throughout a game.
Worst Game in 2022: Week 5 at Seattle
This is one of those games if you just look at the stat sheet, you are going to severely misinterpret what actually happened. The Panthers defeated the Seahawks, 30-24, even though Moore caught zero passes on three targets and added just six yards on two jet sweep handoffs.
The Panthers ran the ball 46 times for 223 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks. Moore’s primary job in this Week 5 contest was to block in the run game and, at times, become a decoy for his teammates.
Out of 69 total offensive snaps played, Moore only ran routes on 29 of them. Despite the small sample size, there were opportunities to make big plays in the passing game.
On the first drive of the game, Moore ran a seam route on first-and-15. It initially looked like it would’ve been an easy touchdown reception. Moore ran past the slot defender, but he had to wait for the pass around the 15-yard line, and the outside cornerback was able to make a play on the ball.
In the red zone on the Seahawks’ 3-yard line, Moore ran an out route from the slot. It appeared there was enough room to fit a pass right on the Seahawks logo, but Darnold missed the throw.
As mentioned above, Moore did a lot of blocking for his running backs in this game. In the third quarter with the Panthers up by three points, Moore helped running back D’Onta Foreman get six yards on first down and then four yards on second down to keep the Panthers offense on the field.
This game is a good indication that Moore is a team-first guy and someone who will execute the game plan regardless of what is asked of him. The Bears ran the ball more (558 attempts) than any team last season and had the most rushing yards (3,014). Moore will be another asset when it comes to the ground game.
Moore provides the Bears, especially Fields, with a much-need player maker that raises the potential of the entire wide receiver room. Since 2018, Moore has eclipsed 1,000 yards three times and is coming off a career-high seven touchdown receptions in 2022.
He played primarily outside while he was the Panthers, but he’s also capable of producing from the slot. And at 5-foot-11, 215 pounds, his size and toughness allows him to play multiple roles for an offense, including running the ball — which he has done 39 times for 355 yards in five seasons.
Once he gets in the open field, he isn’t an easy player to take down. He will look to create yards after the catch to put pressure on the entire defense.
Since opposing defensive coordinators will at times devote double-teams towards Moore, Mooney, Claypool, Jones and Cole Kmet will benefit from playing alongside the new Bears receiver in Luke Getsy’s offense.
Most importantly, though, Fields finally has a go-to guy. The progressions in the offense will start with Moore, which should make easier on Fields to make a sound decision. If he isn’t open on a specific look, then Mooney is a good second option to have.
Trading for Moore was exactly what Poles needed to do to finally see what Fields can become as a passer. Still, the Bears general manager needs to upgrade the offense line and look to add additional playmakers on offense.
Moore is a great start, though, for a 2023 season that should be the first brick in the foundation for hopefully creating something that hasn’t been associated with the Bears in a long time: a consistent and competitive football team.