Bears lose leading WR Darnell Mooney for season with ankle injury

The Chicago Bears got more bad news for their surging offense on Monday.

Head coach Matt Eberflus told reporters that leading receiver Darnell Mooney requires surgery on his injured ankle and will miss the rest of the season.

Mooney injured his ankle while blocking on a run play during Sunday's loss to the New York Jets. He reportedly sustained ligament damage that prompted further testing on Monday. Now his season his over.

Mooney, 25, emerged as Chicago's leading receiver in 2021 as a favorite target of then-rookie quarterback Justin Fields. He tallied 81 catches for 1,055 yards and four touchdowns in his second NFL season. He maintained his place as Chicago's top receiver in 2022 and leads the Bears with 40 catches for 493 yards with a pair of touchdowns through 12 games.

The injury is another setback for an offense that began to emerge as a potent threat behind the development of Fields as a dual-threat quarterback. Fields injured his non-throwing shoulder in Week 11 and missed Sunday's game against the Jets with the injury. His timetable to return is unclear.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney (11) is helped off the field against the New York Jets during an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Darnell Mooney needed help off the field after injuring his ankle on Sunday. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

The Bears lead the NFL in rushing with 192 yards per game thanks in large part to Fields' ability to run the ball. While the passing game lags as the NFL's least-productive, Chicago's offense found its stride in a four-game stretch from Weeks 7-10 where it scored at least 29 points in each game. The scoring outburst didn't translate to wins as the Bears went 1-3 during the stretch and sit at 3-9 after Sunday's 31-10 loss to the Jets with Trevor Siemian playing quarterback.

There was no hope for a playoff run during Fields' breakout season. But the momentum of Chicago's ascending offense has been put on hold.