DJ Moore can team with Justin Fields to give Bears 1-2 punch

The Bears need Moore for more than just winning games; they also need him to help them decide whether to make a nine-figure commitment to Fields next offseason.

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Chicago Bears Offseason Workout

Bears receiver DJ Moore practices Tuesday.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Coach Matt Eberflus watched film of receiver DJ Moore before and after the Bears decided to trade for him in March, but it didn’t prepare him for the speed he witnessed on the first day of the Bears’ organized team activities Monday.

‘‘I was like, ‘Wow, there’s a different gear there,’ ’’ Eberflus said Tuesday.

Moore’s 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2018 was fifth among receivers in his class. He has been one of the NFL’s 20 fastest players with the ball in two of the past three seasons, logging in-game sprints of 21.38 and 21.52 mph.

Unlike some previous Bears acquisitions, though — see Jones, Velus — Moore is more than a speed demon. The precision of his routes and his feel for getting open makes him the most complete receiver quarterback Justin Fields has thrown to as a pro.

‘‘It’s pretty rare when you’ve got a guy that can run the route, have the route discipline that he has and the [football intelligence] that he has,’’ Eberflus said.

The Bears need Moore for more than just winning games; they also need him to help them decide whether to make a nine-figure commitment to Fields next offseason.

‘Strength, speed, body control, great hands,’’ Fields said of Moore. ‘‘I think he knows how to use his body to get open. I think that’s a big part in receivers. He knows how to tip a route. So he’s rarely ever going to be running 100% on all the routes. He has that second gear to go get the ball.

‘‘I think that’s what makes him a great receiver, just his understanding of the coverages, seeing the defense well and stuff like that.’’

Moore’s 5,201 career receiving yards in five seasons would be an all-time Bears record had he done it in navy-and-orange. Fields’ ability to take advantage of Moore’s skills — and vice versa — is one of the few tangible gains the Bears can make on a back field in May.

‘‘As great of a quarterback as you can be or as great as a receiver can be, if there’s not a relationship and a connection between the two of them, then it doesn’t really matter,’’ offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said this month. ‘‘They’re in that phase right now of getting to know each other. ...

‘‘Once those two can communicate with each other — body language, quick communication verbally and stuff — all that will get better as we get going.’’

Moore said he thinks he should be in sync with Fields ‘‘about two to three days’’ into training camp. What he learns in the next month will go a long way toward that chemistry.

‘‘Just understanding the game within the game,’’ Moore said. ‘‘So understanding the quarterback’s footwork on different plays and just being in the right spot when he comes back. If I’m on the back side, just knowing that, ‘Hey, I’m the back-side read.’ Or if I am on the front side, understanding his footwork for the front side. Just honing in on that.’’

Moore accounted for 48.73% of the Panthers’ receiving yards last season, the highest percentage on any team in the NFL. The Bears won’t lean on him that much, particularly if Chase Claypool settles in and Darnell Mooney returns to form after an ankle injury. That unit should be an upgrade over the one last season. Byron Pringle and N’Keal Harry, whom the Bears passed off as playmakers in 2022, remain unsigned as free agents.

Moore makes the Bears’ receiving room make sense. Fields said that Moore settling in at split end allows the other receivers to focus on their positions. Last season, they moved around interchangeably.

‘‘I think it helps the receivers, if I’m honest,’’ Fields said. ‘‘Of course, DJ’s No. 1.’’

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