Let’s take a look back to Week 1, when the Chicago Bears faced off against the Los Angeles Rams and had a particularly uninspiring offensive performance. Andy Dalton’s longest play of the night, and ultimately of his 2021 season before injury, came on a short pass to Marquise Goodwin, going for 19 yards. The passing chart looked like this:
It should come as no surprise then, if that was Dalton’s longest play of the season, that he didn’t have any successful deep passes. In fact, of his 50 pass attempts, he didn’t even try a deep ball down the field — either that, or the Bears weren’t willing to let him do so, or both.
The same can’t be said about rookie quarterback Justin Fields, regardless of whether he’s been the epitome of success out there on the field. One telling stat proves this to be the case, as the Bears are certainly letting him go for it in an effort to get the offense going. As it turns out, no other quarterback has thrown a higher percentage of deep balls, which may also be attributed to how the playcalling has changed.
Dave Kluge of FootballGuys shows us how that has affected Fields’ favorite target to this point, though it should be noted that the graphic does not include the duo’s Week 5 outing.
Still, you can see just how much more this opens up the field for Mooney, who exploded for 125 yards in Week 4. That’s the highest single-game receiving effort that the Bears have had in the past two years, beating Allen Robinson’s 123-yard game against the Falcons in Week 3 of last season.
We can’t go too crazy for Fields yet, though. He ranks last in DVOA, a stat that tells you how much value a quarterback has per play, out of all 32 players with at least 75 pass attempts. He also ranks third-to-last in his PFF grade, ahead of only Davis Mills and Trevor Lawrence, two fellow rookies. For what it’s worth Dalton’s PFF passing grade was a 72.1, while Fields’ is a 55.1.
But in terms of pushing the ball down the field and looking to make the offense a little harder to predict, Fields is willing to do just that. We’ll see if that leads to some positive change and turns around the 32nd-ranked passing offense — in yards, touchdowns and yards per attempt — in the league.