The Chicago Bears had a chance to tie the game in the final minutes of their 24-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 9. But the last of three interceptions — and fourth turnover overall — by rookie Tyson Bagent, making just his third career start, proved to be the backbreaker.
Still, the Bears’ defense left some opportunities on the field that they would surely like to have back, finishing with zero sacks or takeaways in what has become a disturbing trend.
But just how close were they?
PFF Grades: Montez Sweat Leads Bears in Pressures in Debut
The Bears didn’t send a second-round pick that is likely to be towards the front of the round to the Washington Commanders for him to record zero sacks as he did in his debut. But they did bring him in to affect the passer and help free up his teammates, which he also did in that ill-fated debut loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Sweat’s 3.81 yards of average separation from the quarterback led all players in the game, ranking in the top 20 across the league through Sunday.
“Montez Sweat generated a team-high 4 pressures on 25 pass rushes; 16.0% pressure rate, 2.73-second average time to pressure,” posted ESPN’s Courtney Cronin on X, citing Next Gen Stats.
Sweat’s 58.8 pass-rush grade was the third-highest of any Bears EDGE, per Pro Football Focus.
Montez Sweat played 41 snaps and had 3 pressures against the saints.
Thought he had a solid game. PFF gave him a middle of the pack grade (62.3)
— Clay Harbor (@clayharbs82) November 6, 2023
“It wasn’t enough,” Sweat said, per Cronin on November 6. “I’ve got to get there (to the quarterback) more. I’ve got to get more production.”
His three quarterback hurries tied for the team lead and the Bears’ pass-rushing grade as a team rose for the second week in a row, posting their fourth-highest mark of the season. But Sweat also had the fifth-best run-stopping grade, finishing with the fifth-highest overall grade of any Bears defender to see at least as many snaps as he did (41). The Saints got the ball out quicker than the Bears could get home without further disruption to the timing of their passing game.
Teven Jenkins and Darnell Wright Create Intriguing Dilemma
Rookie right tackle Darnell Wright has posted his two best pass-blocking grades over the last two weeks. Part of that is the development of a promising young player and former first-round pick.
Another potential explanation is a growing level of comfort next to Teven Jenkins who slid over to right guard in Week 6 versus the Minnesota Vikings.
Jenkins’ second and third-best weeks in terms of pass blocking have also come in that span.
— Olin kreutz (@olin_kreutz) November 5, 2023
Jenkins was the Bears’ highest-graded player on Sunday, finishing with a 91.1 overall. It is his and the second-highest mark on the team of the season behind only DJ Moore’s 93.2 in Week 5 versus the Sweat and the Washington Commanders. How this impacts things once Nate Davis returns from his ankle injury will be interesting if the trend continues.
Jaylon Johnson Continues Pro Bowl-Caliber Season
Jaylon Johnson finished with the second-highest overall grade on the defense, and the fourth-highest grade on the team. His 76.3 overall score and 81.5 grade in coverage are his third-best marks of the season, respectively.
PFF credits Johnson with allowing one yard on the two completions (on two targets) he allowed versus New Orleans. It is all setting up for an interesting offseason for the Bears as Johnson plays out the final year of his rookie contract. Both sides have expressed a desire to continue forward together, though, so the only certainty is Johnson being rewarded handsomely.