Darnell Mooney could make huge leap in second year with Chicago Bears
Darnell Mooney broke out in his rookie year all things considered. From a fifth-round pick, Mooney got on the field immediately and was producing. He finished his rookie season with over 600 yards for the Chicago Bears. However, while this year was excellent, many could have been with the young up-and-coming wideout from Tulane.
Last year Mooney ranked third to last in yards per target amongst wideouts with 500 receiving yards or more. The only less efficient wideouts were Diontae Johnson and A.J. Green. Yards per target can be low for possession wideouts, but his best asset is his speed and deep game ability for Mooney.
Last year he ranked top 25 in air yards, which is the number of yards the ball flew through the air on targets. He often targeted down the field but had a low yard per target because he was not being hit down the field often.
Last year Mooney had 496 unrealized air yards, which is the difference between the number of air yards and the number of receiving yards that he produced. This once again shows that he was inefficient because he sees balls fly his way but is not seeing the production to match.
Players with worse unrealized air yards include Marquise Brown, Chase Claypool, DJ Chark, Jerry Jeudy, and A.J. Green. On both lists, you see A.J. Green, who may be past his playing days, we see two Steelers because Ben Roethlisberger may be past his days, and then we see Mooney with those names.
Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky will not be starting next year, so you can make the argument that this is a quarterback issue and not the other way around. He is the one getting open deep; after all, he is just not being hit. Last year the Bears Q.B.s were 1-7 when targeting Mooney 20 yards down the field.
Andy Dalton may improve the deep game, which may speak to the issues the Chicago Bears had to throw deep last year. Still, even if it is not Dalton, and we see the rookie Justin Fields, his best trait is his deep ball. No matter who plays next year, Mooney should see better chances, if not more opportunities.
There are things Mooney will need to work on as well. He could improve his yards after the catch to add more receiving after his air yards. Still, a second-year jump is expected in some ways. When you add in the Q.B. play, Mooney could be in for a huge year.
Six hundred yards looked great, but if that is an inefficient version of Mooney, then we may something special when things are put in place in 2021.