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Mooney: Offense shows 'glimpse of our identity'

Bears receiver Darnell Mooney
Bears receiver Darnell Mooney

Bears receiver Darnell Mooney views Saturday's win in Cleveland as a confidence booster for the first-team offense. Even though it was a preseason game, and the offense kept its scheme basic, Mooney was excited about the unit's production.

"That's a glimpse of our identity of how we want to play," Mooney said. "Just let Justin [Fields] do his thing and have him comfortable wherever he wants to be, and we just get in the right spot."

Fields played 29 snaps against the Browns, more than the first two preseason games combined. Among the five drives the first-team offense played in Cleveland, three of them ended with a touchdown pass from Fields.

The second-year quarterback completed 14 of 16 passes for 156 yards, finishing with the second-best completion percentage in the final week of preseason competition among all NFL quarterbacks.

Mooney wasn't surprised by the success Fields had on Saturday. He's had a front row seat to the quarterback's progression since last season, and Mooney is ready to see Fields display that progress to a national audience in the coming weeks.

"I know he's a dog," Mooney said. "I know he does things after practice, during practice and in the offseason. There's things that he's shown. I've seen exactly what he can do. He's gonna shine for sure. He's gonna blossom. He's gonna prove everything that everybody doubted him on – especially Week 1. That (the 49ers) team passed on him. So they're gonna have to pay a little bit for that."

Most of the starters on Saturday played 20 or more snaps, allowing the first-team offense to find an in-game flow together.

Mooney said going against a different defense gave the offense a better feel for how the unit is progressing. It helped them recognize what is working and what needs improvement.

"It was good to get those things in there like, 'We really can do this. We really can move the ball. We really can be a dangerous team,'" Mooney said. "I mean you have those thoughts, but actually going out and [executing] … it was a good confidence booster."

Mooney knows the offense has a lot more to show in the regular season. He is excited about getting deeper into the playbook, which includes "a lot of nice and crazy plays."

"If you look back, we didn't really run many plays," Mooney said. "We've run some of the same plays every down. Just a lot of play-action and then maybe one or two shots down the field. But we're really running the same plays. Nothing really crazy. Just our basic, simple plays. So we've got a lot of things cooking."

Even with the simplicity of the offense in Cleveland, Fields was able to complete passes to 10 different players. And there are still a handful of receivers who are out, including Velus Jones Jr., Byron Pringle and N'Keal Harry.

The growth in connections between Fields and the receivers is something Mooney sees as an important factor for the offense.

"It means you have to cover everybody. You can't 'eye' on anybody," Mooney said. "Somebody's maybe having a good game the week before and you feel like you've got to 'eye' on that guy, and there's another guy that shows. So you've got to make sure you've got eyes on everybody. Especially around the league, everybody's like, 'We don't have anybody. We don't have anybody for Justin to throw to or what not.' Then you're just gonna have to pick somebody – pick somebody to close out – and then somebody else is gonna go off. So, it's your choice who you want to defend, so if you choose to cover that guy and this guy destroys you, then you've got to go back and deal with that.

"We have a lot of elite players – not a lot of known, name guys. But there's always guys that don't have names when the first come in the league or when they try to progress and grow. And they make a name for themselves. We've got a lot of guys that can play very, very well and they're gonna make names for themselves – including me."