Chicago Bears undrafted rookie free agent Tyson Bagent made his second career start on Sunday Night Football in Week 8. His opponent, the Los Angeles Chargers, posed a much bigger problem for him and the rest of his team than the Las Vegas Raiders did in Week 7.
“You could tell the clock in his head was running today,” former Bears and current Chargers EDGE Khalil Mack said, per Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic. “He was getting the ball out pretty quick. He did some good things for them down the stretch. I know he’s going to be a special player, but I’m glad No. 1 wasn’t out there tonight.”
Tyson Bagent, Bears PFF Grades Take Step Back in Week 8
Bagent finished with 232 yards and a pair of interceptions on 37 attempts and a fumble. He scored the second rushing touchdown of his career. And a pair of would-be touchdowns failed to actually be for different reasons. Officials incorrectly ruled Darnell Mooney down on a deep shot on the first play of the game and then Velus Jones Jr. dropped a pass in the end zone after falling.
There were also a couple of would-be interceptions that the Chargers missed out on. Both Mooney and Jones pointed back to the quarter as part of the issue. But the most striking sentiment of the night might have come from Mack.
Bagent’s Pro Football Focus grades versus pressure fell below across the board.
The only area for the Bears’ offense as a whole that avoided similar regression was their run blocking. It was the exact opposite of Week 7 when they tallied 173 rushing yards versus the Raiders. They could only muster 73 total rushing yards versus the Chargers due in part to falling into an early deficit.
The Bears QB “Controversy” That Wasn’t
“No. 1” is Justin Fields who dislocated his thumb in Week 6 versus the Minnesota Vikings. With Fields sidelined since, saddled with an uneven track record, and Bagent’s success in Week 7, a national conversation began to bubble up that even bled into the broadcast.
Cris Collinsworth praising Tyson Bagent for doing something the Bears wish Justin Fields would “figure out.” Then he promptly throws a bad interception. pic.twitter.com/Dl5vbnKy5g
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) October 30, 2023
Of the two, the organization evaluated Bagent out of college. Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy coached Bagent at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, a note that was also brought up during the broadcast. Still, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus has insisted that Fields is the starter when he is healthy when asked.
Fields was coming off throwing eight touchdowns with one interception in Weeks 4 and 5 combined when he got hurt.
That doesn’t take anything away from Bagent.
Bears Boast Talented QB Room
He did what you expect from someone in his situation, and his failures in this game also included a lot of missteps by his supporting cast, very similar to when Fields is healthy and in the game.
Quarterback is the most celebrated singular position in sports. Playing it comes with an inordinate amount of credit and blame. But, if Mack’s assessment serves as any indication of how his NFL peers feel, the Bears quarterback situation isn’t so much of a controversy as it is fortunate.
They are fortunate they have a player that opponents are leery of in Fields as well as a developmental player in Bagent in whom it is also easy to see the vision.
It is on the coaches to coax the most out of that talent.