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Mooney focused on embracing journey ahead


Bears third-year receiver Darnell Mooney is typically one of the happiest people in a room, but he admittedly didn't have the same infectious energy following last Sunday's game against the Texans.

While the Bears won 23-20 to improve to 2-1, Mooney had a couple of drops, causing him to feel frustrated with his performance as he "had the chances to make some type of play."

But after a few days of reflection, Mooney realized the importance of bringing back his positive persona. 

"I wasn't the most smiliest person this week," Mooney said. "A lot of people adapt to my body language and how I move. It was something I had to learn this week. I mean, I learned that last year as well. People would look at me, adapt to what I do, so I gotta be upbeat for everybody."

The receiver was able to release some of that initial frustration right after the game on Sunday as he returned to the field in full uniform to catch passes from the JUGS machine. 

Mooney wanted to get extra work in after dropping a screen pass on first-and-10 with 1:04 left in the first half and failing to haul in a high pass that tipped off his hands a few minutes earlier. 

"That's just a concentration thing, focusing on the ball throughout the whole way," Mooney said. "Just not worrying about doing anything after the catch, catching the ball then doing something."

Quarterback Justin Fields targeted Mooney six times against Houston. The receiver finished the game with two catches for 23 yards. Through three games, Mooney has just four receptions for 27 yards while being targeted 11 times. 

While the dropped passes led to the bulk of Mooney's disappointment, his general lack of production in the passing game enhanced those feelings. 

"It was that, overall, and just not me being a big playmaker for the team," Mooney said. "Offensively, I didn't think I helped out as much as I planned to and without Eddie [Jackson] and defense and Roquan [Smith's interception] on the last one, what did we really do? Beside running it, running it was amazing. Just passing game-wise, I was just frustrated, not being a playmaker I plan to be."

Both Mooney and Fields expressed confidence in the growth of their connection this offseason — spending time in Atlanta training together — and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy still believes the chemistry is there. 

"Those two guys, they both work their tails off and then we come on the practice field, and they do a really nice job of creating that [connection]," Getsy said. "So we've got to create more opportunities for those guys. I mean Darnell is a big part of what we do, and if we're going to go where we want to go, he's got to be a part of it. I know that. So we've got to do a better job of making sure they get their hands on the ball. So we'll find a few more of those as the season goes along and once we find some comfort with other areas, not just those two."

While the entirety of the passing game is still a work in progress, Mooney feels the offense still has time "to get things together," as he knows the defense has their back. 

In the short term, Mooney is "just hungry for the next week." Knowing he left some plays on the field against the Texans, the receiver added a couple more things to work on leading into Week 4. 

Mooney expressed his impatience to get to the next game and be the best version of himself, but he is also staying patient with the long-term process and learning to embrace each experience. 

"It's understanding that you've just got to go through this process and then understand it's going to take some time," Mooney said. "You've got to go through the process and live the journey and love the journey, be in the journey and after the beginning is over, the good parts will come."