by Evan Bruner
In the first start of his NFL career, quarterback Tyson Bagent led the Chicago Bears to their second win of the season, throttling the Las Vegas Raiders 30-12.The game was a departure from the type of football that’s become associated with the Matt Eberflus regime. Execution on both sides of the ball and winning in the trenches made for one of the most complete performances from the Bears in recent memory.
While it was a team effort, the win has led to the inexorable discussion of how Bagent compares to starting quarterback Justin Fields. The numbers from Bagent aren’t staggering; 21 completions on 29 attempts for 162 yards and a touchdown would be considered disappointing for most quarterbacks. However, for an undrafted rookie from a Division II school, the bar is set markedly lower.
What’s most important is Bagent didn’t look like a rookie from a no-name school thrown into the fire to play for one of the worst teams in the league. He looked like a legit NFL quarterback who was wise beyond his years.
Although most fans would still consider Fields the superior quarterback, there are several aspects of the position where Bagent is better. Many of these differences make it easier for the Bears to run a traditional offense, thus opening up the play calling.
As much as Bears fans have taken issue with offense coordinator Luke Getsy, it’s only fair to draw attention to just how difficult his job can be. Fields, despite his immense physical talent, has some undeniable flaws. He has poor short accuracy, doesn’t sense pressure, and doesn’t throw to the middle of the field. These limitations would cause issues for even the most innovative offensive minds.
The Bears were more willing to run shorter passes, as Bagent has better accuracy on screens and other quick-hitting concepts and better timing on those throws. Additionally, Bagent showed precocious pocket movement, which led to a downtick in sacks and quarterback hits.
Bagent’s obvious weakness is that he lacks physical talent. He’s still a work in progress throwing on the move, and his lack of arm talent was apparent on even some of his completions. With that said, Bagent’s accuracy and decisiveness were ultimately enough to outweigh this.
One of the most common defenses of Fields has been that no young quarterback could possibly succeed in his situation. For Fields’ first two seasons, there may have been some credence to this argument, but last Sunday, Bagent completely debunked that theory. With Bagent at the helm, the offense looked more fluid and sustained long, methodical drives to wear down the Raiders’ defense. The game gave the Bears a sense of identity and consistency that’s been lacking for years.
Bagent, in a nutshell, is the anti-Fields. The areas where Fields is the weakest are where Bagent is the strongest and vice versa. Bagent may not have been able to do what Fields did against the Commanders in Week 5, but Fields has also never done what Bagent did on Sunday: keep the offense ahead of the sticks, navigate the pocket to avoid sacks, and sustain long drives.
This isn’t to say that Bagent is a franchise quarterback or that Fields is a lost cause. Rather, it’s to suggest that for as much blame as the Bears as an organization deserve for how they built around Fields, many of the issues that have plagued the team were resolved by just taking him off the field.
Regardless of what his future holds, Bagent played a solid game that would be commendable for any rookie, let alone an undrafted one from the Division II ranks. His performance likely earned him at least a couple more years in the NFL, but what exactly that role will be is yet to be determined.