On the first day of OTAs, Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields had plenty to say about his weapons this season.
Justin Fields Name Drops Chase Claypool, Darnell Mooney
When asked what was the next step for him in the offense from a technical aspect, Fields mentioned working in 2022 trade deadline acquisition Chase Claypool in more this season.
“Chase is improved tremendously just from the end of last year to now,” Fields said via the team’s Twitter feed on May 23. “That’s one thing I’m truly proud to say. Just seeing his work ethic, his attitude changed. You can just see he’s taken another step. So definitely excited for that.”
That has to be music to fans’ and general manager Ryan Poles’ ears.
.@ChaseClaypool would not be denied
📺: #CHIvsNYJ on FOX pic.twitter.com/Bc3y66BD2Y
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 27, 2022
The pick used to acquire the fourth-year man from the Pittsburgh Steelers turned into the No. 32 overall pick.
It is a steep price to pay for the 140 yards on 14 grabs Claypool — who Fields had to calm on the sidelines at one point last season — produced after he arrived last season.
The receiving core was still shorthanded with fourth-year man Darnell Mooney still recovering from surgery to repair a broken fibula. Mooney said on “The 33rd Team” podcast on May 18 that he recently began cutting and expects to be good to go for the season.
He is just one year removed from posting his first 1000-yard season.
“We don’t even have Mooney right now in practice,” Fields noted. “So once we get him back it’s going to be awesome. So very excited, for sure
Justin Fields: D.J. Moore a ‘Great’ WR
Fields was asked about wide receiver D.J. Moore whom the Bears acquired from the Panthers as part of their trade out of the No. 1 overall pick. Moore is the draft pick to suit up for the Bears since Kevin White (No. 7 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft) in 2018 when he tallied eight receptions in nine games after a series of injuries stunted his development.
The No. 24 overall pick in 2018, Moore has three 1000-yard campaigns under his belt and has never been more than 250 yards away from passing that mark in any season so far.
That level of consistency is already apparent to Fields.
“Strength, speed, body control, great hands,” Fields said when asked what stands out about Moore. “I think he knows how to use his body to get open. I think that’s a big part of [being a receiver]. And he knows how to tip a route.”
Our first look at Justin Fields throwing the ball to DJ Moore.
Bonus throw to Velus Jones included. pic.twitter.com/nspim7rdYS
— Alex Shapiro (@AlexShapiroNBCS) May 23, 2023
“He’s rarely going to be running 100% on all his routes. He has that second gear to go get the ball. So I think that’s what makes him a great receiver.
Fields also noted Moore’s abilities to understand coverages and read the defense as strengths.
Justin Fields Sets Record Straight
Fields insisted that “every year was a big year” but the former No. 11 overall pick will be extension eligible after this season and, with a slew of new pieces around him, a big season could mean a big payday.
“I’m not worried about contracts,” Fields said when asked about his contract status. “I’m worried about wins.”
It helps, Fields noted, that he will have another season in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s system.
“I think the growth from…where he was at this time last year to where he is now – I think it just is light years ahead of where it was,” Getsy said on May 6 via the team’s YouTube channel.
Bears Coaches Deliver Encouraging Message About Justin Fields
In the months and weeks leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft, questions floated around pondering if the Bears would take a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick and trade Fields.
The current regime did not draft him and surely don’t anticipate being in that position again.
They ultimately dropped back nine spots to take Darnell Wright with the No. 10 overall pick. They have set themselves up to add to this team if things click for Fields this season and, potentially, do something about it if they don’t, though they are said to be sold on the 24-year-old fourth-year passer.
Asked if he ever felt the team might actually go in a different direction, Fields answered matter-of-factly.
Any questions? pic.twitter.com/M1dSS9Zc7a
— CHGO Sports (@CHGO_Sports) May 23, 2023
But Poles isn’t counting on Fields to take that step alone. Having Moore, Wright, and all of the other additions — including fixing a leaky defense — bode well for Fields and the Bears.