Let's face reality: the Chicago Bears have lost six of their seven games played and are going nowhere fast. Their play in Washington gave us a little hope, but that ended with a dreadful offensive performance on Sunday versus Minnesota.
After two excellent performances against Denver and Washington, quarterback Justin Fields looked like the quarterback we thought the Bears were drafting in the 2021 NFL Draft. Sunday though, he looked more like the guy we saw in the first three games. Starting with the opening play in which he had two receivers wide open with short comebacks on the right side. Looking at the tape, he saw it, thought about throwing, then held up, and a split second later, he was hit for a sack. That has been the story of Fields for too long now. He is too indecisive; just can't make a quick decision and get the ball out of his hand.
As we all know, Fields got injured in the second half and, by all accounts, will miss at least this week's game and probably one or two more. Though it hasn't officially been announced and may not until Friday, the starter will be rookie undrafted free agent Tyson Bagent from that football mecca named Shepherd University in West Virginia.
I know, I know, many of you are saying, "How can a D-II player who went undrafted make a splash in the NFL?" I get it, and it's a fair question. The answer is simple. He can make a splash, and maybe even a big splash, because of one thing all players in the NFL need and that is... this kid has talent! And not just a little talent; he has a lot of it, he just needs to show it. Well, he's going to get his chance, and it couldn't come at a more opportune time. It's a win-win for the Bears because if he plays well, they may have found a gem that cost them nothing. If he fails, they will still have a very high pick in the next Draft to select yet another first-round quarterback.
I said following the pre-season that after closely watching all of Bagent's play in these games, he outperformed the top three quarterbacks in last April's Draft. He looked more poised and more ready to play in the NFL than any of Anthony Richardson, CJ Stroud or Bryce Young. I am not saying he is better than those players, but I am saying he outperformed them under similar circumstances, which is, of course, the NFL pre-season.
Why do I feel that Bagent will perform well? He has the traits that every scout looks for when evaluating a quarterback. His size is excellent (6031- 213) with 4.78 speed, quick feet and maneuverability. He has a quick overhand delivery with good arm strength, throws with anticipation, is accurate, and has excellent poise. Tyson also has strong self-confidence in what he can do. He believes he can be a good NFL quarterback.
For those curious how #Bears QB Tyson Bagent's throwing velocity was at the 2023 #NFL Combine, here's how he stacked up against the other QBs that threw.— Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. (@wiltfongjr) October 17, 2023
Screenshot via @Ourlads_Shonka link: https://t.co/Oy8Cmrm8Je
"Velocity is measured by a radar gun in miles per hour." pic.twitter.com/Oknr7J4Dqs
When we look at Bagent's college stats, they are second to no one. Regardless of what level he played at, there has been no quarterback in history who put up numbers like he has. He started 53 games and completed 1400 of 2040 throws for 17,034 yards, 159 TDs, and a 68.6 % completion percentage. Yes, it was mostly against Division II competition, but so what? The numbers are the numbers.
Shepherd is in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, and I am very familiar with the Conference. It is one of the better D-II conferences in the country. They play a good brand of football, and they have solid coaching. It's not like no one knew of this kid; he was invited and impressed at the Senior Bowl.
So why wasn't he drafted? The answer is primarily because of his D-II background. It's not like D-II quarterbacks have a history of coming into the League and playing well. Tyson Bagent could very well be the exception.
I have no idea how good or bad Bagent will play, but I strongly believe he will perform well. During the first seven weeks of the NFL season, Bagent has not gotten that many reps with the Bears offense. Most backups only get a few reps a week, if that. Their reps are more mental than physical. He did quarterback the scout team in practice, which means he ran the opponent's offense against the Bears' defense three times a week. Even though he wasn't running the Bears offense, the experience is invaluable. It gave him many more reps in practice than the normal backup and helped prepare him for this starting role.
If the Bears keep losing, they will likely be in a position to draft either Caleb Willimas or Drake Maye, the top two quarterbacks in this Draft. What's important about the Bagent "tryout" is determining if the Bears already have that young quarterback in-house.
Last year in San Francisco, they had so many injuries that they had to go to their third quarterback, Brock Purdy. Purdy wasn't a high pick; he was the last guy selected in the 2022 Draft. That means he was one pick away from becoming a UDFA just like Bagent. When Purdy got his opportunity, no one thought he would perform very well. The fact is, he outperformed their other quarterbacks and is now "The Man" in San Francisco. Trust me, I'm not saying that Bagent will do similar, but we have seen that it is within the realm of possibility.
From watching Bagent play both in the pre-season and in the second half last Sunday, I wouldn't bet against him. This kid has something to him!