The Chicago Bears’ failure to add a big-name wide receiver in free agency or the 2022 NFL Draft was the go-to complaint for critics last offseason who said general manager Ryan Poles didn’t do enough to help quarterback Justin Fields. But with Darnell Mooney entering his third season and fresh off of a 1,000-yard campaign in 2021, the expectation was he’d make the jump into the WR1 role this year.
Yet, three games into the 2022 season, Mooney’s totaled just four catches for 27 yards.
Mooney’s worst performance may have come in Week 3’s win over the Houston Texans. He had a bad drop on an easy wide receiver screen destined for a chunk gain and was otherwise irrelevant in a game that screamed breakout opportunity for him. He finished with two catches for 23 yards.
“Just not happy about my performance at all,” Mooney said Wednesday, via NBC Sports Chicago. “I had the opportunities, you know. Had the chances to make some type of play, and I just didn’t be me.”
Mooney spent a considerable amount of time after the game catching passes from a JUGS machine to shake some of the early-season rust.
“It was that, overall, and just not me being a big playmaker for the team,” he said. “Offensively, I didn’t think I helped out as much as I planned to, and without Eddie and defense and Roquan on the last one, what did we really do? Beside running it. Running it was amazing. Just passing game-wise, I was just frustrated, not being a playmaker I plan to be.”
Darnell Mooney, much like Fields, who said he played like trash earlier in the week, is proving he at least has self-awareness. The fastest way for a player to improve his game is to know that improvement is needed. Mooney knows he’s falling short of expectations — way short — and that a turnaround is needed from him for the Chicago Bears passing offense to get going.
“We still have the connection, we’re not gonna force it,” Fields said of Mooney on Wednesday. “I feel like y’all talking about it—You know, I was staring him down a few too many times in the game. He probably told me that to: ‘Bro, don’t try to force anything; just let it all come.’ That’s what we’re gonna do. When the time comes, that time will come.”