By almost any measure, this was the easiest matchup on the Chicago Bears’ 2023 schedule. The Carolina Panthers – now 1-8 thanks to their 16-13 loss to the now 3-7 Chicago Bears – are in the infancy of their rebuild, having traded away two offensive stars in the last two seasons, one of which was catching passes against them on Thursday night.
Fittingly, the Chicago Bears earned glowing marks from Pro Football Focus.
Most notably, they set season highs in their overall, pass-blocking, defense, and pass-rushing grades. There were some letdowns, however. Quarterback Tyson Bagent outdueled Panthers quarterback and fellow rookie Bryce Young. But he posted his worst grade of the season at 49.3. Similarly, guard Teven Jenkins followed up his best grade of the season with his second-worst.
Bears Earn Strong Grades in Most Areas vs. Panthers
Lucas Patrick Praises Teven Jenkins
Jenkins earned the lowest pass-blocking grade of the front while his run-blocking grade checked in ahead of only his fellow guard, Cody Whitehair. In the win, officials called Jenkins for holding, negating a seven-yard pass to Equnanimeous St. Brown. After the play, starting center Lucas Patrick could be seen pumping Jenkins back up for the next play.
The Bears didn’t score on that play. But it was just the latest example of Patrick’s leadership which often goes unnoticed. He is often one of if not the first players on the field on gamedays and has tried to uplift teammates like Bagent as well.
This time, it was Jenkins for whom Patrick offered lofty praise in the locker room after the win on Thursday.
“What I’ve seen out of 76 this year is an immense amount of growth,” Patrick told Clocker Sports. “We saw a great game last week. We saw him come back from a calf. It’s tough. I had some injuries last year and when you miss some of camp, it’s tough to come back and play at a high level.”
Jenkins began the season on injured reserve, missing the first four weeks of the season.
He has returned to grade out as the Bears’ sixth-best player on offense, seventh among their starters (excluding Montez Sweat who has all of two games on his Bears resume).
.@olin_kreutz wants the Bears to keep Teven Jenkins at right guard for good so he can "grow together" next to Darnell Wright to create a real strength on that side of the line.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) November 9, 2023
“I don’t think the media truly understand what he’s done,” Patrick said. “What he’s done as a man, what he’s done in the building. … He might be one of the best guards in football. Nobody’s really talking about it. But I put his name up there. That’s the confidence I have in him.”
Patrick earned the highest offensive grade of any starter. The operation was much cleaner, much to his credit. But his leadership won’t show up on any grade sheet.
“I think the best thing you can be in times that are tough or when we’re trying to do what we’re trying to do – which is everything’s still in front of us from play to late January into February – being there for guys when it’s tough allows them to grow,” Patrick said. “So when maybe somebody feels that confidence, they start to exude it and they can wash those plays out.”
Tyson Bagent Missing Opportunities
Bagent was 2-for-6 on passes that traveled further than 10 yards through the air. Both completions were within 16 yards, continuing to paint the picture of a quarterback who is accurate in the short and intermediate areas but struggles with accuracy the further down the field he has to throw for one reason or another.
On one play in particular, Bagent hesitated and ultimately passed on a throw to rookie wide receiver Tyler Scott who found himself all alone in the secondary.
Scott spoke about that missed shot and his increased opportunities after the game.
Bagent finished with 162 yards on 60.6% completion with zero touchdowns. More importantly, though, he did not take any sacks nor did he turn the ball over. The latter had especially been a bugaboo over his previous starts.
The ‘Tez Factor’ & Kyler-Man
Trade deadline acquisition Montez Sweat has yet to record a sack in two games with the Bears but his impact was clear as day on Thursday night. Sweat finished with a team-high eight pressures, per NFL Next Gen Stats, and was in the picture for most of the Bears’ three sacks on the night.
That was their second-most sacks as a defense in a single game this season.
“Having the effect of Tez, the ‘Tez Factor’, is a pretty cool thing to see,” Eberflus said on Friday. “And you could feel him forcing those incomplete passes, the hits on the quarterback. And that certainly has an effect on the passing game.”
His presence also helps the secondary. The star of the Bears’ secondary over the past couple of weeks has been Jaylon Johnson, and not always for his stellar play on the field with his contract situation looming large. But it was Kyler Gordon in Week 10 that stood out.
“I thought Kyler Gordon played really well for us yesterday,” Eberflus said, citing Gordon’s eight tackles in the game including a career-high two tackles for loss.