The Chicago Bears won their first game with Justin Fields at the helm, just hours after the first-round rookie was announced as their starter. Fields and WR Darnell Mooney treated fans to a dominant performance.
Their showing was so impressive that it gave glimmers of hope to a fan base clinging to scraps like George Costanza and his hairline. However, unlike Costanza’s classic horseshoe pattern, there is the promise for a brighter future in Chicago.
Justin Fields finds a new favorite target
The Bears don’t need Fields to be Superman. They don’t need him to carry their offense. What Chicago does need, however, is a leader at organized sports’ most important position who offers positive play on the field.
They also need to develop a QB-to-WR combination that can be relied upon week in and week out.
In Week 4, that’s exactly what happened. Fields wasn’t Superman, nor was he even the best player on the field. He was simply a solid distributor of the football to the man who was the best player on the field — Mooney.
Mooney runs crisp routes and has underrated speed, something that was underutilized with Mitchell Trubisky under center in 2020 and Andy Dalton earlier this year. Fields hit Mooney for 5 receptions and 125 yards, averaging a ridiculous 25 yards per catch.
This marked the first time in Mooney’s career that he hauled in 100 or more receiving yards. It was also — by far — his single-game record for average yards per catch.
Fields grabs his first win as a starter
Following a debacle in Week 3, Fields secured his first NFL win as a starter. Facing the Browns last week, Fields was sacked more times than he completed passes. Yet, he seemed unfazed in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions.
Fields completed 12-of-18 attempts for 215 yards, connecting with Mooney on 5 passes and Allen Robinson on another 4. His success through the air was built off Chicago’s performance on the ground. David Montgomery ran the ball 23 times for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns before exiting with a knee injury late in the second half.
It wasn’t a flashy victory, but it didn’t need to be. Fields took what the Detroit defense gave him and picked his shots when necessary. He didn’t force the ball, and even his interception wasn’t truly his fault. Throwing a quick slant, Fields had his pass deflected at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Lions CB Amani Oruwariye.
It wasn’t flashy, but it worked.
Fields and Mooney are the future in Chicago
If you haven’t seen what Mooney is capable of, that’s fine. One example you may want to check out from 2020 — Mooney beating All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey at the line of scrimmage before the pass sails roughly 10 yards over his head.
But if you haven’t see what Mooney was able to do today for the Bears, let us help.
Justin Fields is QB1 and Darnell Mooney lays out for this one 🙌
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) October 3, 2021
Mooney goes full extension for this one, but it was how he got open on a deep over route that was most impressive. He recognized the zone coverage and pushed his route as far as he could back to maximize his yardage.
FIelds and Mooney building that connection 🎯 #DaBears
— NFL (@NFL) October 3, 2021
Fields also got this throw off the moment he saw Mooney was even with his defender on a go-ball. As the expression goes, “if he’s even, he’s leavin’.” Mooney was leaving his defender behind, and Fields put the ball exactly where it needed to be.
JUSTIN FIELDS. DIME. #DaBears
— NFL (@NFL) October 3, 2021
But let’s talk about what was arguably Fields’ best throw of the day. Mooney splits zone coverage with a perfectly executed double move and Fields unleashes a beautiful pass in between the defenders. Displaying arm strength and poise from the pocket, Fields’ throw was as spectacular as Mooney’s route.
Moments like these certainly give glimpses of where Chicago’s offense can go. After all, “Fields to Mooney” has a nice ring to it, right?