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Notes: Tyson Bagent shows out in Bears loss vs. Colts

The Bears fall to 1-1 in the preseason with a loss on the road.

NFL: Preseason-Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears experienced their first preseason loss in the Matt Eberflus era on Saturday, falling 24-17 to the Colts on the road.

Even with the loss and giving up what was once a 17-7 Chicago lead, there seems to be positive buzz surrounding the fanbase. A lot of that hype comes from the performance of undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent, who went 9-for-10 with 76 passing yards and a rushing touchdown.

The NCAA all-time leader in career touchdown passes, Bagent came from Division II school Shepherd and has impressed through his first two preseason games in the NFL. Though hardly under the radar as a Senior Bowl and Combine invitee, his ability to come from the D2 level and put together two consecutive strong outings has Bears fans wondering if they have a long-term backup QB option on their hands.

Here are some of my takeaways from Saturday night’s action at Lucas Oil Stadium.


Bagent’s performance, in which he looked accurate and capable of getting the ball out quickly, will likely have been overanalyzed to death by the time this article comes out on Sunday morning.

It’s just the preseason, but his poise as a small-school rookie to move the ball down the field and look the part of a veteran NFL quarterback is something to be admired. Players like Bagent are who the preseason is designed for: young, up-and-coming talents with something to prove in order to make the team. It feels safe to say he shouldn’t be on the roster bubble anymore.

Nathan Peterman played the entirety of the second half for the Bears, going 10-for-18 with 115 yards and a touchdown. Though not as flashy as his rookie counterpart, the 6-year veteran still put together a solid outing, including a beautiful 35-yard touchdown pass to Daurice Fountain. He didn’t really elevate that Bears offense, but nothing he did totally screwed them over, either. Though P.J. Walker started off the game — indicating he’s the QB2 in that room — he didn’t play all that well, instead being outshone by the two quarterbacks beneath him on the depth chart.

The run game was at its most consistent with Roschon Johnson at running back, as the rookie had 7 carries for 32 yards in a nice outing. Travis Homer didn’t do much with 5 carries and just 13 yards, while D’Ontae Foreman had just 3 carries for a decent 4.0 yards-per-carry average. Chicago saw most of their ground game come from Robert Burns, a rookie fullback out of UConn who took over as a running back in an 8-carry, 40-yard game. He looked to have some juice for a bigger back when he ran, but his fourth-quarter fumble played a big role putting the final nail in the coffin for the Bears’ blown lead.

With an efficient passing attack comes the opportunity for pass-catchers to put together strong stat lines, and that’s exactly what Daurice Fountain did. The former Colts fifth-round pick caught 5 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown, showcasing good ball skills and body control while putting his 6-foot-2, 206-pound frame to good use. Isaiah Ford contributed two catches for 31 yards of his own, while a majority of the remaining passes spread out relatively evenly among the offense.

Chicago’s offensive line struggled a bit out of the gate, but they picked it up in the second quarter and maintained pretty solid play for the rest of the game. They generated some good push in the run game for the likes of Johnson and Burns, while Peterman and Bagent faced less pressure than what Walker experienced in the first quarter.

It wasn’t a perfect performance, especially to kick off the game, but it wasn’t terrible, either. The development of young players like Bagent and Johnson made it an overall positive experience for the offense, even in a loss.


The same ferocity Bears fans saw in their team’s win against the Titans didn’t exactly translate to their Week 2 performance against the Colts.

After tallying 8 sacks and 10 quarterback hits in their preseason opener, the Bears were held to just one sack and 4 quarterback hits in Indianapolis. Terrell Lewis provided the lone sack on another beautiful strip-sack speed rush to the outside, but that consistent pressure was harder to come by for the defense on Saturday.

Chicago saw intriguing flashes from rookie defensive tackles Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens, as Pickens had a tackle for a loss, and Dexter showcased nice first-step acceleration. Undrafted rookie D’Anthony Jones made his presence felt beyond the stat sheet off the edge, but as a whole, there wasn’t a ton to write home about from how the Bears performed along the defensive line.

Gardner Minshew had his way with the Bears’ secondary, completing 13 of his 15 passing attempts for 107 yards and a touchdown. It was generally a pretty passive day for Chicago in coverage, as they took a “bend, but don’t break” approach that didn’t allow for too many chances to make a play on the ball. In fact, the Bears didn’t break up a single pass all evening, much less force any interceptions.

With cushiony coverage in the secondary and a lack of pressure up front, the Bears had to rely a lot on their linebackers to make plays at the second level. Granted, their guys didn’t do a bad job — Mykal Walker, Micah Baskerville, Davion Taylor and Jack Sanborn all put up at least 4 tackles, while Noah Sewell looked good in limited reps. The coverage across the middle of the field could have been better, but their guys more than held their own against the run.

Giving up 17 points in the fourth quarter isn’t necessarily a recipe for success, and it’s a big reason why the Bears lost. That said, in a world which sees a similar conservative approach applied to their defense in the regular season, that “bend, but don’t break” style could suit them a lot better with the starters on the field.

Three and out

3. Bagent should absolutely make the 53-man roster. The question now becomes: is P.J. Walker even safe to make the team anymore?

The Bears have the most financial investment in Walker out of the three backup quarterbacks they currently have on their roster. That said, he went 1-for-4 with 6 yards on Saturday and got sacked twice. Against the Titans last week, he went 4-for-8 with 19 yards and an interception. Poise and accuracy have been issues for him thus far, and those problems haven’t plagued Bagent or Peterman in the preseason. Walker has easily the best NFL resume of the three, so it might be a bit premature to consider him a strong cut candidate, but his preseason play is worrisome for a projected QB2.

2. If there’s one position I’m a bit worried about that hasn’t been talked about much, it’s backup safety.

Granted, the fact I’m bringing up depth as an issue instead of outright starting talent is a step in the right direction. That said, the Bears have struggled a bit at the position to start off the preseason, and nobody they’ve trotted out has looked the part of a high-end backup to this point. Eddie Jackson and Jaquan Brisker form a strong tandem in the starting lineup, but if one of them gets hurt, things could get ugly. I personally hope they take the approach they’ve applied to bringing in veterans at linebacker and shift that over to safety before the preseason ends.

1. Now that there have been two preseason games, I’d say the three players who have improved their stock the most with consistent play in each of those outings would be Tyson Bagent, Roschon Johnson and Terrell Lewis.

The likes of Trevis Gipson and Jalen Harris had better days in Week 1, while players like Daurice Fountain stepped it up in Week 2. From a pure week-to-week consistency perspective, though, Bagent, Johnson and Lewis stand out. Bagent and Lewis have done quite a bit to make strong arguments as roster fits, while Johnson builds up his preseason resume to prepare for a potentially bigger role in the Bears’ offense in the regular season. There have been flashes from many young players this preseason, but those three stand out the most right now.