Week 1 boom: Darnell Mooney – MISS
Week 1 bust: Roquan Smith – MISS
The miserable weather conditions at Soldier Field in the Bears’ 19-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers made boom and bust predictions even more challenging than they already are. For the same reason, the Bears’ boom and bust picks for this reason may be tough as well. While the Bears picked up a surprising win, little was revealed about the identity and caliber of the team. Their next test is a Sunday night matchup with the reigning NFC North champs.
Boom: Jaylon Johnson
One of the Packers’ biggest weaknesses was showcased in Week 1, that being their lack of talent and experience at wide receiver. Thus, cornerback Jaylon Johnson will have favorable matchups all night. Even with the probable return of Allen Lazard, no Packers receiver matches the quality of play of Johnson, who has been outstanding for the Bears through his first two seasons. Despite the Bears having the worst overall team grade according to Pro Football Focus in Week 1, Johnson was stellar and posted the fourth highest grade among cornerbacks. Johnson could very well emerge as a top ten cornerback this season, boosted by an impressive start to the season. He may not fill up the stat sheet on Sunday, but that will be the result of Aaron Rodgers avoiding him as much as possible. It is likely that Rodgers will favor attacking Kyler Gordon and Kindle Vildor who respectively ranked as the #43 and #70 cornerbacks last week. Johnson should be nothing short of a lockdown corner this week against an underwhelming receiving core.
Bust: Darnell Mooney
Darnell Mooney was restricted from the opportunity to boom in Week 1 due to weather, but he could be in danger of seeing back-to-back unproductive weeks. The Bears should surely pass the ball more than seventeen times like last week, but that may not ensure receptions for Mooney. While the opportunities could be there for Mooney to shine, the Packers’ loss in Week 1 should encourage the Packers’ secondary to key in on Mooney. After Justin Jefferson torched the Packers for 184 yards and two touchdowns, cornerback Jaire Alexander expressed his desire and willingness to shadow a team’s top receiver. The Packers do not want a repeated performance from Week 1, which could influence Alexander to match up with Mooney when possible. Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry is not going to want to make the same mistake of giving freedom to a team’s top target twice. Thus, the All-Pro Alexander could cause frequent trouble for Mooney. In 2022, the Packers began the season with a 38-3 loss and finished with a 13-4 record. Early struggles for Green Bay are nothing new and they tend to be quickly resolved. The secondary which looked disastrous a week ago could look like the top secondary they were advertised to be this week. If so, Mooney has his work cut out for him.