With the 2023 NFL season set to begin this week, the Green Bay Packers are officially in Week 1 mode. Preparation has begun for their highly anticipated matchup against the Chicago Bears, who have not beaten Green Bay since 2018.
The Bears were one of the most active teams during the offseason, adding multiple pieces to their offense and defense in hopes that it will be enough to seize control of the NFC North for the foreseeable future. Perhaps it will be now that Aaron Rodgers is far away in the AFC East.
Chicago knows as well as anyone that controlling a division for an extended period of time comes down to elite quarterback play. However, since they drafted Justin Fields with the 11th overall pick in 2021, the team has a 9-25 record.
The Bears hope Year 3 will be different under Fields after improving the offensive line and giving him more weapons to throw to. While those additions could help the passing game, where Fields still might be most dangerous is through his ability to take off and run at a moment’s notice. Last season, his 1,143 rushing yards ranked seventh in the NFL and those legs will again present a unique challenge to the Packers’ defense on Sunday.
“I think Justin Fields is a good quarterback,” corner Rasul Douglas said Monday. “He can throw and he can run, and when he runs, he’s like a running back. He’s not just an average runner who might slide or go out of bounds. Like no, he’s looking for all the yards he can get.”
In two games against Green Bay last season, Fields rushed for 91 yards on 14 attempts, including a 55-yard touchdown on an option keeper in Week 13. When asked if the Packers would use a spy on Fields in the season opener, Douglas said he wasn’t sure what the strategy would be.
Instead, Douglas will be more worried about the Bears new No. 1 wide receiver, DJ Moore. In March, Chicago sent the first overall pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for Moore, the ninth overall pick — which they later used on one of the top offensive tackle prospects in Darnell Wright – and several other draft picks. Over five seasons with the Panthers, Moore totaled 364 receptions for 5,201 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns. Douglas knows how good a player Moore is, as the veteran corner was briefly around him in 2020 when he was in the middle of three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
“He’s a dynamic threat,” Douglas said. “I played with him in Carolina and he was always good. He can get 1,000, 1,200-receiving yards every year, so just another guy that has a blanket like if things get tough, you could just get him the ball.”
In Fields and Moore, the Bears may have their first franchise quarterback and legitimate No .1 receiver combo since the days of Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery or Brandon Marshall. But will it be enough to alter the course of a struggling franchise and turn the recent tides of the NFL’s oldest rivalry? Sunday’s game should give us a better idea.