During an offseason in which the Bears addressed the receivers room by adding depth (Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown), grabbing some post-hype sleepers (Dante Pettis), and rolling the dice in the draft (Velus Jones Jr.), this team needs its most-established receiver to take his game to another level.
And it seems like Darnell Mooney is ready to take that leap.
In a Q&A with Ehsan Kassim of The Gadsden Times, Mooney weighs in on a bunch of stuff. But nothing caught my attention like his response to a question asking what it’ll be like to be The Man in the receivers room.
“I’m ready for whatever anybody brings to me,” Mooney said. “I’m ready for any task, any type of defense that we’re seeing, whatever it is, anyway, I can help the team. You know, if I get double teamed, I’ll be a decoy for the team so everybody else can be open. I mean, I’m good with that. Anyway I can help win.”
You’ve got to love the energy radiating from Mooney here. This sounds like someone who is ready to fully embrace the challenge of being a WR1. And not a moment too soon.
Losing Allen Robinson II in free agency stings a bit, especially since he is already making strong first impressions at Rams camp. And the Bears’ inability to make a splash in the free agent or trade markets leaves the team in a position to lean on Mooney, their top returning receiver. It would be concerning to put too much on one specific player if Mooney wasn’t positioning himself to snatch the WR1 title and run with it. I mean, why can’t Mooney be a WR1 in this league? After all, he seems to be on the cusp of jumping into a new tier.
It has been a busy offseason for Mooney. The rising third-year receiver isn’t resting on the laurels that came after netting his first 1,000-yard receiving season. Mooney told The Gadsden Times that he and quarterback Justin Fields have been building chemistry by working together nearly every week when they have off-time. And it doesn’t seem like it’s lip service, either. This vibes with what the story has been throughout the offseason.
This is what dedication to your craft looks like, my friends.
The overall interview is pretty neat, so you should give it a read to get some more depth and background on the Bears’ top pass-catcher. Mooney reflects on his time as a youth, working camps, and now running his own now that he is a pro with his own success. He also discusses how he enjoyed summer breaks in Chicago as a child (noting that his dad is from Chicago) and that he’d like to be around long-term. There was already a lot to like about Mooney, who has grown from a fifth-round rookie at the bottom of the Bears depth chart in 2020 to its clear-cut top target as he enters Year 3. Tack on the factor of a success story of a player giving back to the community adds a little something extra. You just love to see it.