A day that began with encouragement about the return of three starters to the Chicago Bears’ secondary ended in disappointment and uncertainty over the future at quarterback.
It was not totally because of starting quarterback Justin Fields’ performance on the day, though it was not as encouraging as the last two weeks have been for the third-year passer. He finished the day with 58 passing yards and one interception on six completions in 10 attempts.
Fields suffered a hand injury the severity of which is unknown, though x-rays were negative. That thrust undrafted free agent Tyson Bagent into the spotlight, something more than a few fans have clamored for for some time. Albeit under dubious circumstances, Bagent acquitted himself well. But he took a sack and fumbled leading to a return for a touchdown. That put the Bears down two scores.
Bagent even led the Bears to a touchdown, capping off a nine-play, 77-yard drive. It brought the Bears to within one score.
“It felt good,” Bagent said of the score. “Always a dream for every young kid, every young football player to play in the NFL. So the fact that I was able to you know make it here, get in the in zone, it felt good.”
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Bears’ Tyson Bagent: ‘Nothing Changes’ if He Has to Start in Week 7
First NFL TD for @tysbagent 🙌
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 15, 2023
He was also marching them down the field for a potential game-winning touchdown before the other shoe dropped. Dropping back in search of DJ Moore, whom Bagent called “one of the best receivers in the world”. The rookie instead found Vikings cornerback Byron Murphy for a game-sealing interception.
After the game, Bagent said he underthrew the ball, and that he has to “give my guy a chance” to make a play.
Moore had one reception for seven yards with just two targets until Bagent stepped in on the second possession of the second half. The Bears’ top pass-catcher said his slow start was due to several things. He said he was even triple-teamed on one play. But he was complimentary of what Bagent was able to do.
Fields suffered a dislocated thumb, per Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer. He tried to pop it back in place and return but was unable to grip the ball, the latter note also being relayed to reporters by head coach Matt Eberflus.
With Fields’ status uncertain, it could very well be Bagent under center in Week 6 versus the Las Vegas Raiders.
Even if it is, Bagent insists that it will be business as usual as far as he is concerned.
“Nothing changes for me,” Bagent said. “Whatever the defense shows week-to-week, we’re gonna study that, put it together, dissect it. The coaches are gonna put together another great game plan. The players are going to study it, get it right, and look forward to getting a victory next week.”
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The secondary wasn’t the only group that entered the game healthier. Left guard Teven Jenkins also returned to the starting lineup. Chicago got Nate Davis back with the starters last week after he followed a similar reserve-to-starter ramp-up in the two weeks prior.
Davis would leave the game after Fields rolled up on his leg. The big-ticket free agent signing could be seen in the tunnels of Soldier Field riding a cart and in a walking boot after the game.
In his place was Ja’Tyre Carter.
The second-year player had filled in for Davis while the latter has dealt with personal matters that have kept him out of two games entirely. Carter stormed the field fired up after T.J. Edwards sacked Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, forcing a fumble that Tremaine Edmunds recovered.
.@maine_savage23 with the INT ‼️
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 15, 2023
“As an o-lineman, when you see that good field position, you’re just like, ‘Man, we’re about to go score this. We’re about to go punch this in,” Carter said. “So I was real excited. I was ready to get out there, man. Like, we don’t need no TV timeouts or nothing.”
Carter also pumped up Moore who was standing away from the huddle in between plays at one point. The youngster showed some leadership beyond his years in that moment.
“I was just saying, ‘Let’s go, man. Let’s go get in the box,’” said of his conversation with Moore who would later be removed from the game for a play after taking a big fall. “‘You one of our good guys. So, we’re gonna come to you, and we’re gonna go off what you do. You’re a great player, we love seeing you play, and we’re gonna protect for you.’”
Even before Carter tried to give a boost to Moore, backup center Lucas Patrick did something similar with Fields. The quarterback’s day began with a sack on the very first play from scrimmage. Patrick shared that his message was simple, and not just for Fields.
“I mean, it doesn’t matter if it’s Justin Fields or anyone – Bill Murray on our practice squad,” Patrick said. “I’m gonna have every guy’s back.
“If you got a “C” on your helmet, you’re my teammate, IGYB. And, look, we need everybody pulling in the right direction, always focused on the task at hand and winning these games. So, it’s not negative, it’s not positive. It’s just, the more we can get together, and be as one, the better we’ll be. So, just always try to pull guys together whenever I can.”
Both Carter and Patrick both said that they were always ready to go. That is good. The Bears may need one or both again in Week 7.