Bears

How defenses are respecting Darnell Mooney more

Bears

Darnell Mooney has always thought of himself as a top-tier receiver. Now with the Bears missing Allen Robinson and Marquise Goodwin, it seems like opposing defenses are starting to treat Mooney like one, too.

“I see a lot of the defensive backs are looking at me and pointing at me and giving signals,” Mooney said. “I see them looking at me and my eyes, so I feel like they’ve got a lot of eyes on me. But I’ve always looked at myself as a threat, so I feel like I’ve gotten that quite a little bit, but there’s definitely more pointing and eyes on me ever since A-Rob went out.”

While that may be a new development for Mooney’s pro career, it’s not something completely new to him. Back at Tulane, Mooney said he garnered a lot of defensive attention, especially in his senior year.

“My junior year, beginning of the year I remember we played Ohio State and they had a whole social media eyeing me,” Mooney said. “Everybody was just eyeing on me. I'm used to it a good bit so I'm not really worried about it. I just play my game and whenever I have the opportunity to get the ball and do something with it I try to take advantage of it.”

Mooney has acted as the Bears’ No. 1 wideout over the past three weeks, and turned that opportunity into good production. Against Baltimore and Detroit, he had back-to-back 100+ yard games, and had one score. But the Cardinals he wasn’t targeted until there were about four minutes left in the first half. He ended the game with five catches on seven targets, but was limited to 27 yards. His 5.4 yards/reception average in the game was well below his season average of 15.1 yds/rec from Weeks 1-12.

 

But Mooney wasn’t about to give the Cardinals’ defense credit for shutting him down in that first half. He denied the thought that they did something special to prevent him from getting the ball early.

“It was more so just the playing field, weather-wise,” Mooney said. “Everything changes when the weather was a little bit iffy, if it was gonna rain really hard or just not rain that much, so just trying to protect the ball, especially when they had the ball their first time they were fumbling the ball all over the place, so we were just trying to stay safe. We got the running game going for us, and it was pretty good for us.”

Up next is the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. It’s still unclear whether or not Allen Robinson will be healthy enough to play. If he can’t go, then Mooney will get another chance to show what he can do as the Bears’ top receiver on a national stage.

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