LAKE FOREST – DJ Moore is a man of few words. He lets his play speak for itself.
That’s why he was somewhat surprised when he learned that he was voted one of four Bears captains for the 2023 season.
“Shoot, I was jumping up and down in my seat, low key,” Moore said. “Glad nobody noticed.”
Receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, whose locker is near Moore’s, told Moore that he put his name on his ballot, but Moore didn’t expect that so many other teammates would, too. In five previous NFL seasons, Moore never ascended to team captain status. He joins quarterback Justin Fields, safety Eddie Jackson and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds as team captains. Head coach Matt Eberflus also institutes one rotating guest captain per week.
This much is clear: Moore is making an impression quickly.
“He don’t talk much,” Jackson said. “I call him the silent assassin. He kind of lets his game do the talking.”
Bears fans have placed huge expectations on Fields’ shoulders. The starting quarterback had a breakout season last year as a runner amid a terrible stretch of losing. Now, Bears fans want to see the same success passing. Fields’ hopes, in turn, lie largely on the shoulders of Moore. Of all the new additions that general manager Ryan Poles acquired this offseason, nobody will draw more attention than Moore.
The Bears acquired Moore in March as part of the trade that sent the No. 1 overall draft pick to the Carolina Panthers. He was a centerpiece of that deal. Poles saw an opportunity to leverage the top draft pick for an elite player and an extra first-round pick in 2024, and he took it.
Moore should instantly elevate the Bears’ offense. He made that apparent with just a few preseason snaps, exhibiting an elite ability to pick up yards after the catch. Moore averaged more than 1,000 yards per season during his five seasons in Carolina. He did that with quarterbacks Cam Newton, Kyle Allen, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and PJ Walker.
“The biggest thing with DJ, one, there’s a comfort level with the quarterback,” offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said. “When you have that, it gives you a little bit of freedom for creativity, comfort plays that you can lean on whenever you need to. The biggest thing, I think it just gives confidence to the group.”
The biggest thing with DJ, one, there’s a comfort level with the quarterback. When you have that, it gives you a little bit of freedom for creativity, comfort plays that you can lean on whenever you need to.— Luke Getsy, Bears offensive coordinator
A starting lineup at wide receiver that includes Moore, Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool should be competitive, if everyone is healthy. The quarterback still has to show that he can throw the ball at a high level if this is going to work, but having a safety net like Moore should help. Moore has an impressive ability to find open space, especially in the intermediate area of the field. The Bears are hoping it elevates everyone around him.
All his life, Moore has had the ability to motivate people with his play on the field. Growing up, his friends always told him he would play in the league one day.
“As I progressed through high school and college, then I really seemed I was getting better and better each year,” Moore said. “So I might as well just keep going and having fun with it. But the main thing I do is just not take it too serious and just have fun. It’s still a kid’s game at the end of the day.”
Sunday will be the first test for the new Bears offense. The Bears open the season against the Packers at 3:25 p.m. Sunday at Soldier Field.
It feels like a new era for the oldest rivalry in football. Aaron Rodgers is gone and a young, unknown quarterback in Jordan Love is taking over in Green Bay. The Bears feel as if there’s an opportunity ahead of them.
“We don’t really care what happened in the past,” Fields said. “That doesn’t affect what’s going to happen on Sunday. We’re just looking to go out there, play our best and put our best foot forward.”
Moore is new to the rivalry and new to Chicago. Bears fans everywhere are eager to see what he can do for Fields and the offense.