CHICAGO – People know that that the player wearing No. 1 and taking the snaps is going to be the Bears’ long-term player at the quarterback position
But one thing that people are interested in as Justin Fields begins his career with the Bears is which players on offense he’ll form a connection with in order to bring the team offensive success. Many great quarterbacks in the history of the NFL have a small group of receivers or even just one with whom they have a special connection.
Could fans have seen such a bond form between Fields and another young Bears’ receiver on Sunday? One can only hope.
The quarterback had five of his passes end up in the hands of Darnell Mooney on the afternoon for 125 yards. Statistically, they were the tops for the Bears on Sunday as they beat the Lions 24-14 at Soldier Field, but it’s the way they got it done that signals a potential combination for the team for years to come.
Let’s start with the first play, which is one that many Bears’ fans have been longing to see.
That was when Fields looked way downfield on 2nd-and-11 deep in his own territory and hit Darnell Mooney with a strike for a 64-yard gain. The throw was clean and led the receiver, who was able to make the catch in stride.
It wasn’t a touchdown but it did lead to one that gave the Bears a 14-0 lead over the Lions. But it was the concept of the team completing a long downfield pass that was most exciting and the precision to which it was executed is something that’s not been seen around the team in a long time.
“Yeah, I mean, that’s a big play in the game, and that’s going to give us momentum,” said Fields of the 64-yard pass. “The more explosive plays we can get, the better, and of course that play was a backed-up play, we were kind of backed up and that was a big shot.”
It was one where the chemistry between Fields and Mooney may have helped to pull it off.
“Me and Justin locked eyes, once he looked at me I was like ‘OK’ So I gave my eyes to the safety, found out where he was, then I took my route higher. Once he threw the ball, I caught it and I knew the safety was coming towards me, so I was like ‘I’ve got to make him miss.’ I didn’t know the guy was behind me.
“I tried to score.”
He didn’t, but once again in the third quarter, one of his great catches helped to set up another touchdown.
Early in the third quarter, Fields dropped a pass down the sidelines right into Mooney’s chest, and he pulled it down and stayed inbounds for a 32-yard gain. The Bears would score on the next play as they got what turned out to be the winning score on the afternoon.
Two precision throws between a young quarterback and a young receiver led to a victory and gave Bears’ fans the prospect of a potential productive combination that could finally bring a consistent, productive offense to Chicago.
It wasn’t a mistake, either, according to Fields.
“Me and Mooney, we stay almost every day after practice to throw at least a few extra routes. Me and him are pretty much always on the same page,” said Fields. “He had a great day today. He balled up.”
Yet Mooney wasn’t so fast to claim that a connection is growing, trying to make sure the praise was spread after one of the better games of his still-young career.
“It’s a strong bond, but like I said last week, we’re a team,” said Mooney when asked about the bond he’s formed with Fields. “I’m good with everybody on the team, so it’s not any difference from anybody.”
It looks like the opposite at the moment, and that’s not a bad thing for the Bears’ future.