Darnell Mooney is a driven young man. If people did not know it before, then they do it now. There was a reason former wide receiver coach Mike Furrey knocked on the table for him back in 2020. It was not his speed or speed. Furrey saw a young man who was manically motivated to be great. His work ethic was unlike most recipients anywhere. There was no such thing as rest periods with Mooney.
When people look at him, the immediate assumption is that he is focused on taking full advantage of his speed and agility. It means working exclusively on its regular service. There is no doubt that Mooney does this. His routes have gotten so much better from where he was as a rookie. But it does not even come close to telling the whole story. According to Dan Pompei of The Athletic, the Bears receiver is especially dedicated to his strength training.
The results can blow your mind.
Remember that Mooney weighs 180 lbs. He is not what anyone would call a poster child for weight training. Still, what he does to lift regularly would make many bigger men fight. He is so advanced that he even takes potshots on his much bigger teammates on the offensive line.
He is strong everywhere. The proof is on a sloping bench where he throws 90-pound dumbbells eight timesand in a squat rack, where he has lifted 405 pounds.
It’s not uncommon for him to tweet to the Bears’ offensive linemen while training. “Yes, what are you doing?” he will say. “We lift the same weights. “
But everywhere he goes, he hears, “You are not very big.” Or, “Aren’t you too small to play football?”
For those wondering, the typical squat weight for an offensive lineman is around 450 lbs. The standard size of a tackle or guard is 6’4, 300-310 lbs. Mooney is five inches shorter and 130 lbs lighter than that. Still, he is only 40 lbs less in his squat.
Regardless of his weight, it is clear that he is bigger than the weight says he is. Mooney has “hidden strength”, according to Furrey. And he thinks like a bigger man.
“He’s so small, but he swears he could beat anyone,” DeRamus says. “He wants to charge the biggest person. He doesn’t care. I suspect he has petty man syndrome.”
That might explain why defensive backs had a harder time stopping him last year than they expected. Most of them were focused on counteracting his speed and agility. They were focused on manning him and playing physically. No doubt they got an ugly shock when he countered with his own considerable force.
Darnell Mooney is already emerging as team leader.
Over the past two years, he left that job to Allen Robinson for obvious reasons. Now with A-Rob gone, there is a void to be filled. Mooney seems to have taken on more responsibility. Not only does he work with teammates to help them get better, but he is also not afraid to push them. If it means any rubbish in the weight room, then so be it. Whatever it takes to make oneself and the offense better.
Hearing these stories is more than encouraging. It reminds Bears fans why Darnell Mooney should be a breakout candidate on every list going into 2022. Still, national media treats him at best as a # 3 option. He was nothing more than a person who enjoyed Robinson’s presence for two years. That suits Mooney well. He has made a career out of being in doubt ever since high school. The more people ignore him, the more motivated he becomes.
That’s why the downfall and gloom surrounding the Bears this year may trigger his best season yet.
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