Darnell Mooney was one of the most pleasant surprises for the Bears in 2020. He moved quickly from an unheralded fifth-round pick to a reliable contributor on offense. In Week 1, Mooney caught coaches’ and fans’ attention alike when he caught three balls for 38 yards. Ted Ginn was made a healthy scratch in Week 2, and Mooney was rewarded with a spot start. From there his snap count went up and up, with Ted Ginn becoming an afterthought in the offense. Now, Mooney is regarded as another great mid-round find by Ryan Pace with a bright future.
But if you ask Mooney, none of that success surprises him. On NBC Sports Chicago’s “Countdown to Kickoff” show, Mooney said he was confident in the individual work he put in since the team couldn’t get together for a traditional training camp. If anything, Mooney is actually disappointed that he dropped one ball over the course of the regular season.
“The goal this year was zero, and the ball that I dropped was the easiest catch I could’ve ever made throughout the whole season,” Mooney said. “It was upsetting. It was upsetting me throughout the whole game. They were just trying to tell me to forget about it, but one thing I’m trying to do is be a perfectionist, and I dropped it. So I’ve just got to strive for it next year.”
That’s not all Mooney wants to improve upon however. Even though he’s one of the quickest players on the team, Mooney thinks he can play even faster.
“One thing is just being able to catch the ball and turn upfield and be at my complete speed, instead of having to gradually get three steps and then I’m there. Just my acceleration of that. Then, just learning more about the game.”
For much of what he’s learned about the game at the NFL level so far, Mooney credits Allen Robinson. For what it’s worth, he hopes Robinson and the Bears are able to work something out so that the star receiver is back at Halas Hall in 2021.
“Definitely a big benefit to me,” Mooney said. “He taught me a lot of things, not just on the field, but off the field as well. Just a lot of knowledge on the NFL and what it is. Just from early on, even before I got to go to Halas Hall. He was just speaking a lot of knowledge to me. Then, his presence is just very known every time he walks in the door. Every time he’s on the field, his presence is very known. Just having him as a teammate was very beneficial.
“It would be a very big loss, because he’s a very impactful player. I have him in my top-five receivers, for sure. Hopefully we get him back here.”