After the Bears acquired DJ Moore in a blockbuster offseason trade with the Panthers, expectations were exceedingly high for the sixth-year receiver.
Twelve games into his first season in Chicago, Moore has more than lived up to the hype, leading the Bears with 70 catches, 1,003 yards and six touchdowns. He's one of only nine NFL receivers to surpass 1,000 yards, and his average of 83.6 yards per game is the best by a Bears player since Alshon Jeffrey averaged 89.7 yards in 2015.
"He's done a great job of coming in as a humble guy that's making sure he fits in and tying into his teammates first," said offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. "Now as the season's gone along, the growth of the leadership part of it has been really cool. To see him step up, and not just in the receiver room but on the offense as a whole, I think everybody in that room has so much respect for the work ethic that he brings, the kind of teammate that he is. He always puts it on himself. Every coaching point that we ever give DJ, it's always, 'I got you,' and 'OK, how can I apply that?' Conversations are great. The attentiveness is great. He's been really good for us."
The Bears acquired Moore from Carolina along with four draft picks in exchange for the No. 1 selection in the draft that the Panthers spent on quarterback Bryce Young.
The Bears knew exactly the type of player they were getting in Moore, who caught 364 passes for 5,201 yards and 21 touchdowns in five seasons with Carolina. The 24th pick in the 2018 draft out of Maryland, Moore topped 1,100 yards in three straight seasons with 1,175 in 2019, 1,193 in 2020 and 1,157 in 2021.
Shortly after the trade was made, Bears general manager Ryan Poles described Moore as "a receiver that can create separation and make big plays," adding that he was "over the moon" about acquiring a player "who can help us right now get better." Poles also told reporters that Moore is "a really good person" who "fits our culture and what we're trying to do and keep that room and our team and our locker room in a really good place."
On Moore's first night in Chicago following the trade, quarterback Justin Fields went out for dinner with the receiver and his family. The two later attended a Chicago Bulls game together with other teammates and were among a group of Bears players who worked out together in Florida before training camp.
"Everybody knows he's a great player," Fields said. "But great player and even better person, even better teammate. He came in, was kind of quiet a little bit. But he's always been the same. The more you get to know him, the more you talk to him, he just opens up more and really just becomes an open book. I love him as a teammate, love him as a person. He's just great to have on the team."
The Bears were back on the practice fields at Halas Hall to continue their preparation for Sunday's NFC North battle with the Lions at Soldier Field.
Fields and Moore have excelled in their first season together. Fields' 146.0 passer rating when targeting Moore is the highest by an NFL quarterback and receiver among all duos with at least 50 targets. Moore attributed their cohesiveness to "just being on the same page with him week-in and week-out the best I can, and when he scrambles, getting open and just doing what I do after I catch the ball."
That was particularly evident Oct. 5 in a 40-20 Thursday night win over the Commanders. Moore set career highs with 230 yards and three touchdowns on eight receptions from Fields, who threw for 282 yards and four TDs in the game. The 230 receiving yards were the second most in Bears history, trailing only Jeffery's 249 yards Dec. 1, 2013, in an overtime loss to the Vikings in Minnesota. They were also the most by an NFL receiver since the Bengals' Ja'Marr Chase compiled 266 yards Jan. 2, 2022.
"[Moore] is an all-around just great dude and great teammate," said tight end Cole Kmet. "I think what sticks out to me is just how unselfish he is on the field as well. I know everyone sees the catches and the yards-after-catch that he makes, but whenever you see yourself, and I get the ball, and whether it's in the flat or downfield, and you look up and he's blocking his guy already, those are the things that stick out to me.
"Quite frankly, as a guy who is part of the line at times in pass pro, and you know if we've got a play dialed up for DJ, you're going to be blocking extra hard here to make sure he gets that rock. Just a special all-around dude, and obviously way more than he was even advertised coming in, so he's been great."