The Chicago Bears offense performed well in the preseason. It put together some nice drives and finished with a flourish against Cleveland, scoring 21 points in less than a half. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy showed an aptitude for finding favorable matchups and calling smart plays in the right situations. It was a great way to help his players build some confidence. Darnell Mooney wasn’t happy about it, though.
It wasn’t because he thought the system was terrible, far from it. His grumbling concerns how much Getsy held the actual scheme back. It is common knowledge that teams don’t game plan much during the preseason. The best way to get a good sense of how far along your players are is to see them matched up man on man. Run a simple array of plays and see if you can execute them well. Those that do win starting jobs or make the team. Those that don’t get demoted or cut.
So how handcuffed was the scheme last month? Mooney revealed as much.
Just three to four plays every week. Anyone who knows the NFL understands that a playbook is often the size of a Tolstoy novel. There are hundreds of passing plays an offensive coordinator has cooked up depending on the types of defenses they play against, who the quarterback is, and the field area the team is in. Getsy narrowed that down to a handful of plays he called repeatedly.
No wonder Mooney felt so shackled. He knew the different options available in many of those situations the Bears faced that would’ve worked wonders. Yet because of the endless competitive nature of the NFL, they were kept under lock and key until the regular season. Getsy has no intention of tipping off the San Francisco 49ers as to what he has planned for them.
Darnell Mooney will be off the leash in six days.
The third-year wide receiver seems poised for a big season. He is the unquestioned #1 target for Justin Fields, coming off over 1,000 yards last year. That was in an offense widely considered among the most nonsensical in the entire NFL. Matt Nagy never seemed to know how to construct a system that flowed together. He always felt like he threw plays at the wall to see what stuck. Mooney made it work anyway.
It stands to reason Darnell Mooney can be even better in a scheme that understands how to create matchups. Getsy never got creative with alignments in the preseason. That will change on Sunday. Mooney will line up everywhere, taking full advantage of his speed and route-running prowess. He had a solid game against the 49ers last year (6 catches for 64 yards). There is no doubt he is eager to top that.
Everybody is eager to find out what happens.
San Francisco will be a tough opening test. Their defense is widely viewed as one of the best in the NFL. Their defensive front seven is fast and ferocious. Fields will need at least reasonable protection if he’s going to get Mooney and others the football. Some good scheduling should help with that.