From an undrafted rookie out of the Division II program Shepard, located in Martinsburg, West Virginia, Tyson Bagent's improbable journey has been an interesting one. He began by winning his debut against the Las Vegas Raiders, which led to the firing of their embattled head coach Josh McDaniels last week. The following week against the Los Angeles Chargers on national television, the broadcasters were hyping up Bagent's background and performance all night, which drew heavy criticism both locally in Chicago and nationally.
With Justin Fields back at practice and seen throwing the ball last Friday, Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints may well be Bagent's final professional start unless Fields is injured again or plays poorly due to him returning too quickly from his injury.
Bagent and the Bears started fast, which ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cole Kmet, who made an awesome catch in the corner of the end zone, capping off a 9-play, 75-yard opening drive. It could not have started well for him. However, Bagent threw a bad interception when he eyed Kmet, who was surrounded by multiple Saints defenders on their second drive, which the Saints took advantage of the short field and scored.
But Bagent did not allow the pick to affect him and continued to operate efficiently. A nice catch and run by Darnell Mooney and using his legs to extend plays on 3rd and 9 at the Saints' 21, where the Bears challenged the spot and shockingly won, putting the Bears first and goal at the Saints' 9-yard line. Then once again, he connects with Kmet for a touchdown.
By halftime, he had completed 10 of 13 passes for 149 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception for a 121.5 passer rating. He had operated very well within offensive coordinator Luke Getsy's scheme. And he even got national media members excited about his performance once again.
Too bad the game did not end there because, in the second half, it was a completely different story. He became a turnover machine by throwing two interceptions on back-to-back drives and a fumble on their final possession. He finished 18 of 30 for 220 yards and added 70 rushing yards on eight carries. His passer rating plummeted to 65.3 by the end of the game.
Tyson Bagent's underdog story comes to an end as Chicago Bears lose to Saints
He has now thrown three touchdowns and six interceptions after three starts. Let's not forget he came in relief against the Minnesota Vikings after Justin Fields got hurt, threw an interception, and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
The interceptions he threw exposed his limitations as a quarterback. The second interception was a pass that was jumped by Saints cornerback Marcus Maye intended for Darnell Mooney in a very tight spot. The third interception was intended for Tyler Scott, which Bagent threw poorly behind him, allowing Saints cornerback Paulson Adebo to pick it off for the second time in the game. The defense kept them in the game, but the offense kept shooting themselves in the foot in the second half.
Still, this loss was not all on Bagent. Once again, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy made a questionable decision that altered the game. Early in the fourth quarter, the Bears had a ball deep inside their territory facing 3rd down and 6. Getsy inexplicably called an RB screen pass to Darrynton Evans, which was poorly executed and never stood a chance. The Bears punted and the Saints took over in the Bears' territory and promptly marched down the field for a game-winning touchdown.
For three quarters, Getsy actually called a great game. He even allowed Bagent to use his legs to make plays much to the chagrin of the Justin Fields fans. But Getsy's decision to call a screen down deep in their territory instead of sticking with what was working shows he does not have any trust in either Bagent or Fields.
Meanwhile, the Bears defense had no sacks and turnovers despite the debut of Montez Sweat, who was acquired in trade from Washington. They struggled to contain Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill and gave up easy third-down conversions throughout the game thanks to the outdated soft zone coverage that Matt Eberflus continues to deploy. The Saints followed the Chargers' blueprint from a week ago by beating them underneath knowing they do not tackle well. The Bears failed to adjust, which is something this coaching staff continues to fail at.
As Bagent's shot at redemption completely evaporated with a disastrous second half, his status as a backup quarterback has been officially cemented. Again, there's nothing with that and certainly no shame in it. Having a competent backup quarterback who is young and inexpensive like Bagent is vital moving forward.
With 8 games remaining, Justin Fields will return as the starter Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers barring any setbacks this week. What he observed while being sidelined and how his game will look will be interesting. Fields must ball out to make it difficult for the Bears front office to move on from him. And if he fails, then the Bears will simply move on from him this off-season.
Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy's jobs are on the line despite a vote of confidence by Ryan Poles. If Getsy can scheme Bagent to roll out and use his legs against the Saints, then there's no reason for him not to do the same with Fields, who proved last season that his biggest weapon is his legs. Fields gives them the best opportunity to win, something all three of them lack on their resume. Will they be on the same page to salvage the lost season and make a strong case for all of them to return in 2024? Their uphill climb begins this Thursday.