LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Wide receiver DJ Moore had just left his exit interview with coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Bulls when he entered the Chicago Bears locker room Monday morning at Halas Hall.
“My grade for the meeting? I give it an A-plus,” Moore said. “She was open and honest. You have given good feedback. They gave me their honest opinion on how my year went and everything. This will stay between us until it comes out later and you'll all see what happens. we will see.”
Of course Justin Fields came into the conversation.
And of course, Moore offered his support to the quarterback.
“He's the Chicago Bears' quarterback even otherwise,” Moore said. “I don't think that's going to change any time soon. We'll see.”
The longer Moore spoke, the better sense you got of what the Bears' best player shared with his head coach and GM.
“No one really wants to start over,” Moore said.
Moore then mentioned Joe Burrow's rookie season with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020 after being drafted with the first pick. The Bengals went 2-7-1 in games Burrow started during his rookie season. The Bengals' offensive line struggled to protect Burrow, and he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in Week 11.
“You could have had that kind of season,” Moore said. “You never know. It's hit or miss. We'll have to wait and see.”
Bears' big decisions on Matt Eberflus and Justin Fields: Who stays and who goes?
Owning the No. 1 pick in the draft for the second year in a row provides the Bears' brass with a great opportunity but also presents a potential dilemma. The locker room looks close to winning in 2024 and appears to be behind Fields.
But what if Polish scouts said they would take USC's Caleb Williams or North Carolina's Drake May with the first pick? How much impact do short-term concerns have on the Poles' long-term plans for the concession?
Moore's take on Burrow's rookie season is valid, but the Bengals still made the right decision by drafting him. He became one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL by his second season. The Bengals not only advanced to the playoffs, but also reached Super Bowl LVI, where they lost to the Los Angeles Rams.
Nothing spurs change in the NFL more than poor quarterback play. Coaches, coordinators and general managers get fired because of it every year.
Among qualifying quarterbacks, Fields finished this season ranked 24th in QBR, 22nd in passer rating, 29th in completion percentage, 23rd in passing yards per game, and 26th in adjusted net yards per attempt. Fields' EPA per pass this season puts him in the same conversation as Kenny Pickett and Zach Wilson.
Hard data says to move forward. She says picking up Fields' fifth-year option for 2025, which would be worth about $22 million, is not the right move. But it's not that simple, not when Moore and others support Fields as much as they do.
The Poles must take into account his team chemistry. One bad move could ruin the good vibes and momentum the team believes it has built this season. The Poles should remember that from last season when he replaced fullback Roquan Smith.
However, the Bears have months to decide whether drafting Williams or Maye is a better move than keeping Fields and using the first pick to build around him. The plot itself will be a lingering story until that decision is reached.
The short term starts with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. If Fields was discussed a lot on Monday, Getsy was also discussed. If players react too negatively, the Bears will have to make a change. Field numbers are Getsy numbers too. He did not develop enough over two seasons with Getsy in charge.
The Bears couldn't stop Jordan Love and didn't have a quarterback who could beat him
It wouldn't be surprising if Eberflus and the Bulls asked Moore to expand on his comments from Sunday night in Green Bay, which were a criticism of Getsy's play. But it also wouldn't be surprising if some players, including long-time veteran Marcedes Luis and center Lucas Patrick, paid tribute to Jitsi. NFL locker rooms are full of different opinions on everything.
“He did a really good job,” Lewis said before mentioning their history with the Green Bay Packers. “I felt like Luke knew my style of play, my skill set, where I was best at — especially at this point in my career — and where I could be an asset to his offense and to this team.
“I think from Week 1 to Week 18, I was getting more and more playing time. That means if I'm in the game, we're running the ball. The play-action pass. We're bombing the rock. We're staying above the chains. And we're playing the type of ball we want to play.” We play it, right? I felt like we kind of developed that.
But when it comes to quarterbacks and receivers, some players should be listened to more than others. Neither Lewis nor Patrick have a contract for next season. Moore will definitely be back. It's part of the Bears' plans for 2024 and 2025.
On Monday, Moore was also asked why the Bears failed to maximize the talents of receiver Darnell Mooney this season.
He said: “I don't know.” “One, you've got to stay healthy, I guess. Other than that, I don't know. You'd have to ask him that. How he felt like he was taken advantage of this year and everything. There's a lot of different moving parts to that, I mean it's really hard to answer.”
But it is likely that More provided these details to Eberflus and the Poles. Mooney probably did the same.
Honesty is what Eberflus and the Poles wanted.
Hopefully a lot of players will get it.
“When it comes out, whatever happens, happens, and that's probably what I said they're doing or not doing,” Moore said. “It's really not up to me. But just having a voice is pretty good.
He said that Eberflus and the Poles were receptive. They even took notes.
“Who doesn't accept me, do you know what I'm saying?” Moore said. “She's got this smile and everything.”
Bears players express their belief in fundamentals: “The arrow is pointing up.”
(Top photo by Justin Fields: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today)
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