Hub Arkush: Onus on Justin Fields to improve after Bears bolster receiving corps

Additions of DJ Moore, Robert Tonyan should improve team’s depth

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields works on the field as head coach Matt Eberflus looks on during practice, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in Lake Forest.

LAKE FOREST – When evaluating Justin Fields’ 2022 season – in particular his leading the 32nd-ranked passing game in the NFL – a large chunk of the conversation has centered around the assumption he had very little help from his receiving group.

Whether that is fair to the pass catchers is an open question, but there can be no dispute the Bears made a serious effort to improve the talent at the position and dramatically improve the ability and production of the players they already had this offseason.

Watching practice Wednesday at Halas Hall, there was no question it is something the team continues to work hard at.

The Bears started by trading for D.J. Moore to be their No. 1 wideout, signing Robert Tonyan from the Packers to be tight end No. 2 and drafting receiver Tyler Scott in the fourth round to add blazing speed.

There also is hope that giving Chase Claypool a full offseason to learn the system and recover from injuries after trading for him in-season last year could give the team a second No. 1 or at least a No. 2 wide receiver.

Also, getting last year’s No. 1 receiver, Darnell Mooney, healthy could make a big difference.

Head coach Matt Eberflus believes Mooney will be back and ready to go.

“Darnell is working his tail off, and he’s right on track,” Eberflus said. “He’s right on track, and we anticipate him going as soon as possible. He’s going to have a great summer, and he’s really amped up for that summer to get ready for training camp, so we’ll see where it is. And barring any setbacks, he’ll be ready.”

Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is optimistic about Claypool, as well.

“To say where he is now, obviously, he’s definitely in a much better place,” Getsy said Wednesday. “That’s what’s most important. Like coach Flus and those guys have said, I think that his positivity, his optimism coming into this thing, and his attack and his approach to how he’s trying to learn this thing is really cool to see.”

Getsy appears confident about what Scott can contribute, too.

“I’m excited for him,” Getsy said. “The way that he came in, he’s got some stuff to him that you like. His approach – he’s got toughness. He’s a smart guy. I’ve been really pleased with him. By no means is he where he needs to be, but where he’s going and his approach and the way he attacks every single day, I’m really excited for him.”

Getsy also is upbeat about starting tight end Cole Kmet emerging as a top-end difference-maker.

“Kind of the cool thing about him is the flexibility he gives you, the ability to play in the run game, the ability to stretch somebody down the field vertically,” Getsy said.

“I think the other part of him, too, is just his experience now that he brings, the communication we have, the toughness that he brings. I think all that stuff is a really cool opportunity for him to step up and be a big leader for us.”

It’s promising that Kmet and Tonyan have a relationship from before becoming teammates, and Kmet is anxious to work with him.

“I knew Bobby well. We first met each other over at the Tight End U deal down in Nashville, and then obviously playing them twice a year for the last three years, you get to know him well,” Kmet said. “Great dude. I think he’s going to be a great fit.”

Last, and most importantly, is the addition of Moore and his 5,201 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in only five NFL seasons. He still is only 26 years old.

A legitimate No. 1 can make all the difference in the world for Fields.

Are all these changes enough for the Bears to finally have found their franchise quarterback? That is now the question of the season and certainly reason for hope.

But it’s going to be very hard to blame the pass catchers if it doesn’t happen.

Hub Arkush is the senior Bears analyst for Shaw Media and

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush was the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and