Oct 1, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver DJ Moore (2) talks with quarterback Justin Fields (1) before a game against the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
LAKE FOREST — The last time the Chicago Bears played the Green Bay Packers, Justin Fields only targeted DJ Moore twice in Week 1’s 38-20 blowout loss at Soldier Field.
Moore caught both of those passes for 25 yards, and the receptions happened on back-to-back plays early in the second quarter.
But a lot has changed since that Week 1 loss.
One of the biggest differences is the connection that Fields and Moore have established throughout the course of the 2023 season.
“I feel more comfortable in the offense now,” DJ Moore said this week at Halas Hall. “That was my first game within this offense, so with (Luke) Getsy and everybody … we’re in Week 18 now. I mean I feel way better.”
That comfort between Fields and Moore couldn’t be any clearer now. Moore leads the team in receptions (92), targets (130), receiving yards (1,300) and receiving touchdowns (8). His receiving yards and touchdowns are both career highs.
In the 40-20 victory against the Washington Commanders on Monday Night Football, Fields connected with Moore eight times and set a single-game career high with his 230 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Since that Week 1 loss to the Packers, Moore has had at least five targets in the last 15 games. His five targets in the Week 9 loss to the Saints occurred with Tyson Bagent as quarterback.
The most times Fields has targeted Moore in a game has been 13 times, which happened in the 12-10 win over the Vikings and most recently in the 37-17 victory over the Falcons.
General manager Ryan Poles added Moore to this team to help the development of Fields as he entered into his third season of the NFL. Although the overall production hasn’t shown a dramatic increase, Fields has improved some of his passing numbers.
He has a new career-high in completions (216), attempts (354), passing yards (2,414) and has reduced the sacks to 39 this season compared to 55 in 2022. On passes of 20 yards or more, Fields has thrown for 646 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions and is currently ranked sixth in the league with a 113.4 passer rating, according to Pro Football Focus. This has all been done despite missing four games due to a dislocated right thumb.
Adding a player of Moore’s caliber has helped Fields grow as a passer.
“You know, I’ll just talk about how smart he is, how he understands leverages, coverages, has tempo in and out of his routes,” Fields said. “Of course he’s just a great player and playmaker. So it’s great having him on the team. He makes my job easier like I always say. He’s pretty much always open unless they double-team him. But I mean, it’s been great. Any time you can get the ball in his hands you’re most likely going to get an explosive play. He’s hard to tackle. He’s like a running back once he gets the ball in his hands. So like I’ve said throughout this whole year, he’s been making my job easier and been a great asset to the team.”
In the Bears’ 37-17 victory over the Falcons, Fields and Moore connected nine times for 159 yards and a touchdown. Late in the first quarter, Fields targeted Moore on a vertical route down the left sideline and Moore had to make an over-the-shoulder catch while snow flurries were coming down at Soldier Field.
After the game, Moore said he had to blind catch the football. Fields mentioned in his postgame press conference that he had “that trust in him that’s he gonna make that catch.”
The 1-2 combo has come a long way since that first game of the season against Green Bay, and now Fields and Moore can potentially end the Packers’ run at making the postseason with a victory at Lambeau Field.
“It presents a good opportunity,” Moore said. “We want other people sitting at home with us in this division, so why not just knock them off.”
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