Tyson Bagent has been the buzz of the NFL media over the last week. That doesn’t happen too many times with an undrafted rookie quarterback, but when you have the story that Bagent does, it’s no surprise that the media has wanted to run with it.
Bagent will have an opportunity to show the world what he can or can’t do on Sunday Night Football as the Chicago Bears head to Hollywood to take on the Los Angeles Chargers. We sat down with Kyle DeDiminicantanio from our sister site, Bolts from the Blue, to help us preview the Sunday Night matchup.
1. Justin Herbert has been struggling some this year. That may seem odd to say about a QB who is 6th in QBR, 6th in Y/A and 9th in TD passes, but what exactly hasn’t been clicking with Herbert’s game?
That’s really, really hard to say. I’ve been a big believer that Corey Linsley is the second-most important player on this roster, leading the offensive line from the middle and elevating the play of his young guards. When Linsley is out, this offense always seems to take a major step backwards, and that seems to be the case this season as well. In Corey’s last game since he took leave to address a heart complication we know little about, Herbert put on a clinic against the Minnesota Vikings, throwing for 405 yards, three touchdowns, no picks, and 40 completions. The next week, without Linsley he completed 54.2% of his passes for 167 yards, a touchdown, and an interception against a struggling Raiders team.
Mike Williams was also injured in the Vikings game, and is out for the year with a torn ACL. Herbert definitely misses Mike as well, but the protection just seems to be so much weaker - and Herbert’s pocket presence shakier - when Linsely isn’t in the huddle.
2. Brandon Staley always seems to be getting into the national conversation with questionable coaching decisions, especially on fourth down, what does the fan base think of the job he’s done in LA and is he on the hot seat with this slow start?
The majority of the fan base is ready to move on, most of the conversation circles around whether it should be an in-season firing or not. When the Bolts acquired Khalil Mack from you last year, it was the start of our front office deciding to go “All-In...” they even produced an impressive in-house docuseries on the team under that branding. After 2022 was dismantled by injuries, Tom Telesco and Brandon Staley heavily mortgaged the teams’ future cap health by restructuring Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Mike Williams, and Keenan Allen to keep the “All-In” monniker alive. Now, the Bolts need to clear approximately $55-60 million from their 2024 cap to field a roster next year. There’s mounting frustration that we’ve leveraged ourselves so heavily for a roster and staff that continues to underperform, and it would likely be healthier for the franchise to move on from Staley now and get some extra draft capital by trading some of the expensive veterans that could help a contender hoist the Lombardi.
After all - if Staley and Tom Telesco (who should also be on the hot seat) can’t win with all the deferred cap spending to keep this talented roster together, why should the Chargers trust them to navigate through a rebuild with less assets at their disposal?
3. As you can imagine, Chicago has a soft spot for Khalil Mack, a lot of Bears’ fans were excited that he had such a huge game against the Raiders, how has his performance been overall since acquiring him last season?
He’s been the most reliable defensive presence the Chargers have. Chargers fans were dreaming of the destruction a Bosa/Mack pairing could bring, but Joey hasn’t been able to stay healthy. The new rookie Tuli Tuipulotu has actually been the better of the two complimentary EDGEs, although Joey has seemed to benefit from being kept in a rotational role as he battles injuries.
We absolutely love Mack. He’s brought leadership to the defense, taking the whole squad out for dinner every Friday night on his dime, and it even got the offense jealous enough that they started crashing the meal. He’s definitely everything you could want out of a defensive cornerstone, we just wish the defense around him offered more. If the Chargers don’t suddenly turn a corner this Sunday night and resemble a contender, there are many of us that would like to see Mack traded to a team with real Super Bowl aspirations since he is a likely cut candidate in the offseason as the team tries to get cap compliant before the new league year. It’s a real bummer of a situation that could have been avoided with better cap management last offseason.
4. Bears’ backup QB Tyson Bagent is expected to start in this game, in his first start, his average depth of target was just 2.1 yards per attempt. Would you expect Staley to have his defense press up on the line of scrimmage and force the Bears to push the ball down the field, or would you expect Staley to stay with his traditional scheme?
We’ve been begging Staley to play more press all season - it’s extremely frustrating for a coach that typically deploys over-the-top help to also have his cornerbacks playing seven yards off the ball. In our best games last year, the cornerbacks and linebackers were disrupting routes inside of five yards, like in our surprise victory against the Dolphins. We have no idea why we seem to have shifted from this physical style of play. Staley has random games where it seems like he “gets it” and his complicated defensive scheme suddenly gels with our defensive backs, so we may come in with a different wrinkle... but I’m not holding my breath.
5. From a Chargers perspective, is there a particular player prop on DraftKings that you like for this game?
Our defense has been one of the worst at giving up explosive plays, both on the ground and through the air. I’d probably slam the “over” for D.J. Moore to get more than 58.5 yards, but that boils down to your confidence in Bagent. Michael Davis will likely be on Moore through most of the game, and he’s been giving a lot of cushion - and completions - to receivers all year. I’d also take the “over” on the yardage total of whichever running back Bears fans believe will get the opportunities. He plays with thin boxes, typically matching an offense’s personnel grouping with an extra defensive back in hopes of flooding the passing lanes with bodies. The concession is a defense that is easy to exploit on the ground.
The Chargers can get exploited by scrambling quarterbacks as well. The “over” on Bagent’s 10.5 rushing yards looks pretty tasty.
Hey, thanks for having me Windy City Gridiron! I’ll try to hang out in the comments with ya’ll and keep the chatter going if you have more questions. Here’s to a good game Sunday night, with all our boys making it out of the game healthy.
So there you have it, if you have additional questions about the Chargers, drop them in the comments and Kyle will try to get to them. As for this game, the Chargers are a hefty favorite (-8.5), so if you think the Bears can hang with them, you know the play.