LAKE FOREST – Whenever you think of a great quarterback, there is usually a receiver who is there to help that person succeed.
Justin Fields is trying to develop into an elite signal caller for the Bears starting in 2021 as he gains experience by the week in his rookie season. While he’s admitted to trying to spread the ball around, there is one receiver so far whom he’s found a common connection.
Darnell Mooney is the Bears’ leading receiver with 36 catches for 450 yards and two touchdowns, including the one that briefly gave his team the lead against the Steelers in Week 9. The majority of those have come from Fields, who has played every snap at quarterback since Andy Dalton’s injury against the Bengals in Week 2.
“I just like his work ethic. He’s always willing to work. He’s always willing to meet late, meet after meetings, get on Zoom and stuff like that,” said Fields when asked about his quick passing connection with Mooney. “Early in the year I was telling you all how we would just stay and throw after practice, so just the connection we have and the amount of work he puts in, how great he wants to be, it’s inspiring, really, to me.
“When I Facetime him, he’s watching films it’s just like ‘Dang, maybe I should be watching more film like he’s watching film.’ He’s a great player and a great teammate, of course.”
Mooney has caught nine passes in the last two games when Fields has played his best football so far as the Bears’ starting quarterback, with the receiver being targeted 15 times. The quarterback has thrown for 466 yards against the Steelers and 49ers with two touchdowns compared to two interceptions as his confidence appears to be growing.
That’s good for the second-year receiver, who believes their connection will only grow as Fields continues to adapt more to the NFL.
“It all boils down to confidence. The more confidence he brings to himself and to the team, the more confidence I have in myself, the more I’m more motivated to go out there and do as much as I can to be there for him,” said Mooney. “I’m out there trying to do the best I can whenever my opportunity is called on, so whenever he gives me that call, I want to be able to pick up.”
He’s done so a lot already in 2021.