How Darnell Mooney earned the Bears' trust in 2 games


Normally not one for celebrations, Darnell Mooney made an exception on Sunday afternoon. After catching what would end up being the game-winning touchdown in the Bears' 17-13 win over New York, Mooney – the 173rd pick in this year's NFL Draft – had a good time making his way back to the sideline. It's hard to blame him; you only score your first NFL touchdown once. Still, maybe it's fitting that the rookie receiver managed to parade through a line of handshakes and shoulder bumps while keeping one thing in mind.  

"Where’s the ball at?" he said. "Because I threw the ball to the ref, and I was looking for the ball the whole time. That was the main thing." 

On paper, Mooney's second career game went a lot like his first: he had three catches for 38 yards against Detroit and three for 36 against the Giants. Sunday's performance was obviously a bit more impactful, and it's even more telling that Ted Ginn Jr. went from playing 43% of the snaps to being a healthy scratch. 

"Yeah, I would say there's a little bit of that," Matt Nagy said when asked if the two were related. "Mooney's, he's playing well, but with Ted – he's been in this league for a little while, and I just think numbers-wise, right now for us with where we were, it was something that we didn't have to do." 

The actual score was the product of a broken down play, though Nagy admitted that it "happens a lot." When the play went sideways, Mooney explained that his rule is to "basically just get open." Trubisky saw that they had Giants cornerback Corey Ballentine turned around. 


"I’ll have to watch the film but I think it was drop eight again," he said. "... he had no eyes on the football so I was kind of waving to Mooney to go out to the left and I put it in a spot and he did a great job attacking the football and coming back toward it and made an amazing catch." 

It's evident that there's a trust between Trubisky and Mooney that the quarterback (very) clearly doesn't have with all his receivers. The "scramble drill" that they connected on had already been worked on a bunch during the post-practice route running sessions that the two run often. 

"You can tell he’s making an effort to get on the same page, being in his depth, being in the right place at the right time, and as a quarterback, you just trust that," Trubisky added. 

"It’s really cool to see in a young guy that he’s getting it right away and that he wants to learn because he wants to catch the football and he wants to make plays for this offense."