Bears WR Darnell Mooney completes 1,000-yard receiving season

Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney runs up field after catching a pass during the first half against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS – Darnell Mooney will forever be in the Bears record books.

With 12 catches and 126 receiving yards during Sunday’s 31-17 loss in Minnesota, Mooney turned in the 18th 1,000-yard receiving season in Bears history. He finished his season with 81 receptions for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns.

The second-year pro out of Tulane continues to prove that he needs to be a key part of the Bears’ future moving forward. The Bears offense had few bright spots this season. None shined brighter than Mooney.

“At the beginning of the season, I wanted to be dominant,” Mooney said Sunday. “[I was] not as dominant as I wanted to be. A lot of the guys congratulated me. The receivers tell me it’s a very big thing, so I take credit for it, but it’s not my biggest [goal], and I definitely have more to show than just 1,000 yards. And we lost.”

The Bears have now had a 1,000-yard receiver in three straight seasons. Allen Robinson topped 1,000 yards in 2019 and 2020. Robinson and Mooney proved to be a solid one-two punch last year, but Robinson could never carve out a consistent role in 2021. Robinson’s season ended with 38 catches for 410 yards and one touchdown in 12 games.

Mooney will be the only regular contributor returning at wide receiver next season. Robinson, Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd are all set to become free agents. The Bears will undoubtedly bring in help at the position. No matter who they add, Mooney has earned the right to carry the banner of top dog into next season.

He was already eager Sunday to get back to work with quarterback Justin Fields as soon as possible. He said the work begins Monday, although he was forgetting that his buddy at quarterback is still sidelined by COVID-19.

The sentiment, however, should have Bears fans excited for the future.

“We’ll get our exit meetings and we’re off to Florida,” Mooney said Sunday.

Mooney said the players in the locker room haven’t spent much time talking about the big-picture changes that could be on the horizon for the Bears organization, including head coach Matt Nagy’s future.

“We haven’t talked about that at all,” Mooney said. “Honestly, I just take everything one day at a time and one game at a time. So whatever is in front of my face at that point of time, where my feet are, I want to be where my feet are. I don’t focus on the future or anything or the past, so I just stay in the present.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.