The Chicago Bears are almost a month away from reporting to training camp to begin preparations for their 2022 season. All eyes will be on Justin Fields and his development in his second season in the league. Although expectations are high for Fields, third-year wide receiver Darnell Mooney could be in store for a career season due to the circumstances surrounding the Bears’ offense.
Choose your breakout WR pic.twitter.com/HxcSPhJDDC
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) June 17, 2022
Mooney Could Generate Massive Production Due To Multiple Factors With The Bears
Mooney is Chicago’s number one wide receiver now that the team did not re-sign former Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson this past offseason. The third-year pass-catcher is the best player at the position for the Bears. Although the team acquired several wide receivers via free agency and the draft, Chicago did not land an impactful player to help improve the position. Mooney, last season, led Chicago with 81 receptions and 1,055 receiving yards.
Mooney made a significant jump from his rookie season of 2020, which was equally impressive as he broke the Bears’ rookie record for most receptions in a season. Although his production level in 2021 is impressive, it is more impressive in how the third-year receiver was able to be successful. During the 2021 season, Mooney caught passes from three different starting quarterbacks in Fields, Nick Foles, and Andy Dalton. The Bears’ top receiver recorded 100-yard receiving games with two different quarterbacks.
Darnell Mooney in Week 18
💥 12 catches (1st among all WRs)
💥 126 yards (1st)
A future stud. pic.twitter.com/8BUJ3ApW0z
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) January 10, 2022
Heading into the 2022 season, Mooney will catch passes from only Fields, who will be the Bears’ starting quarterback for the entire season, unless an injury occurs. Chicago’s starting quarterback and top wide receiver have spent the whole offseason working out together to build better chemistry and timing on passing-plays. Being the top wide receiver, Mooney could easily see a massive increase in targets as he has proven over the last two season that he can gain separation from opposing defenders.
Another reason why Mooney could potentially see a massive increase in production in 2022 is because of the Bears’ new offensive scheme with new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Getsy is set to implement an offense that is similar to the San Francisco 49ers’ offense which heavily utilizes boot-leg and play-action passing designs. Last season, 49ers’ receiver Deebo Samuel caught 77 passes for over 1,405 and led the league in yards per reception with 18.2 yards. Getsy could develop passing plays similar to how Samuel was used last season to help free Mooney in coverage even more.
Deebo Samuel really has 1600 total yards and 13 total touchdowns.
18 yards per catch.
6 yards per carry.
best football player in the league.#FTTB
— J r u e (@thatl0calguy) January 3, 2022
Although there is excitement about how Fields could perform in 2022, there is little excitement for the Bears to be competitive. Due to the team rebuilding, Chicago is expected to lose a lot of games this season, which will force the offense to play from behind most of the time. Trailing in most games will lead to more passing plays and more relaxed coverage from an opposing secondary, leading to Mooney picking up more receptions, yards, and touchdowns in garbage time.
Mooney Could Break Several Bears Single-Season Receiving Records
Due to all the circumstances surrounding the Bears in 2022, Mooney could be in a position to break several of the franchise receiving records. Former Bears receiver Brandon Marshall holds the record for most receptions and receiving yards in a season with his production level during the 2012 season. Marshall recorded 118 receptions and had 1,508 receiving yards. Former Bears receivers Ken Kavanaugh and Dick Gorden share the record for most receiving touchdowns in a season with 13.
Although it is unlikely that Mooney can break the touchdown record, he could have a legitimate chance at breaking the receptions and receiving yards record for the Bears. The rest of the players at Chicago’s wide receiving position include Byron Pringle, Velus Jones Jr, Dante Pettis, and Equanimeous St. Brown. Other than Mooney, no receiver on the Bears has ever recorded more than 600 receiving yards in a season. There is a steep fall-off in production potential from Chicago’s top receiver compared to the rest of the wide receivers on the team.
In the Super Bowl Era, Day 3 WRs with the most targets through their first two NFL seasons:
• 258 – Marques Colston
• 253 – Mike Williams (Tampa Bay)
• 238 – Darnell Mooney 👀
• 207 – Brandon Marshall
• 196 – Stefon Diggs
Per @Stathead pic.twitter.com/XljldfcFXL
— Marvin Elequin (@FF_MarvinE) June 14, 2022
If Fields can improve from his rookie season with Getsy’s new offensive scheme, this will lead to Mooney having an increased level of production. Last season, Chicago’s best receiver had over 80 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards despite having a constant change at the quarterback position and having did not have help from other receivers drawing defensive coverage away from him. Mooney has the talent to be an elite-level pass-catcher this season, and external circumstances could give him the chance to produce the statistics that will place him in that category.
Oh, Catches and Yards, because garbage time, but not TDs, because that interferes with the precious “not likely to win much” stretch, which is crucial to the “can’t possibly be good without a top 5 draft pick” myth, which most fans are afraid to let go of.
“Although the team acquired several wide receivers via free agency and the draft, Chicago did not land an impactful player to help improve the position.”
If you repeat something often enough it becomes the truth. No one knows yet how Pringle or V. Jones or any of the others might impact games in the new offense. I wish writers would stop stating their opinions like they are established fact just because some ESPN “experts” agree with them.
I’m happy we’re over the whole “Mooney isn’t a number 1 received!” argument. He is. Or at least management feels that way.
Mooney will get more attention this year from Defenses with Robinson gone, so it will be more about having a strong running game to help Mooney (and all the WRs) to get open. I think he’ll have about the same # of catches but more total yards and TDs this year because of his connection with Fields and Getsy’s offensive scheme.