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Scrambling for a Quarterback: Of Backups and Non-Controversies

Tyson Bagent has put together a preseason tour de force, the kind of thing equaled by only around forty quarterbacks so far. This preseason.

Chicago Bears Training Camp Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

P.J. Walker—previously with the Carolina Panthers—entered the NFL in 2020, and since that time, he has thrown 228 pass attempts and managed a passer rating of 63.9 (ANY/A 3.83). His 6.4 yards per attempt have been pedestrian to say the least, but he has played 493 snaps and made 7 starts. In the preseason thus far, he has posted a 14.6 passer rating by going 5/12 for 25 yards with no touchdowns and a single interception.

In that same time, Nathan Peterman has thrown 30 pass attempts and managed a passer rating of 69.3. Not only is this double the passer rating he managed in Buffalo, it is better than what Walker has done in the same time. However, his 5.5 yards per attempt have been less impressive, and his 3.24 ANY/A is a paltry number even for a backup quarterback. Perhaps more importantly, he has only played 59 snaps and made 1 start. As noted, this does leave out his disastrous performance for the Buffalo Bills, but it also likely more accurately reflects the quarterback he has become. In this preseason, Peterman has managed a 94.6 passer rating by going 14/24 with 173 yards and a single passing touchdown to no interceptions.

If the decision were simply down to Walker vs Peterson, then it would be a simple matter of comparing an objectively bad quarterback with more recent game experience to the slightly better (but still bad) quarterback with less recent game experience and a brutal history.

However, it is not down to those two men. There is also the case of Tyson Bagent, who has probably won almost every “my dad can beat up your dad” showdown he has ever faced. However, he has no NFL history. His preseason for the Chicago Bears has been impressive, though, posting a 98.1 passer rating by going 13/15 with 113 yards (with no touchdowns or interceptions on his passing record). To put his passer rating into context, here are the NFL players with a better passer rating in preseason than he has earned in either of his games:

Best Preseason Passers

Player Rating
Player Rating
Aidan O’Connell vs the Los Angeles Rams 127.8
Aidan O’Connell vs the San Francisco 49ers 117.8
Blaine Gabbert vs the Arizona Cardinals 158.3
Blaine Gabbert vs the New Orleans Saints 114.1
Brock Purdy vs the Denver Broncos 118.8
Case Keenum vs the New England Patriots 103
Chase Garbers vs the San Francisco 49ers 104.2
Chris Olodakun vs the Arizona Cardinals 118.8
Cooper Rush vs the Seattle Seahawks 108
Daniel Jones vs the Carolina Panthers 135.6
David Blough vs the Denver Broncos 991
Davis Mills vs the New England Patriots 126.7
Derek Carr vs the Kansas City Chiefs 140.6
Dorian Thompson-Robinson vs the Washington Commanders 142.5
Dorian Thompson-Robinson vs the New York Jets 124.1
Drew Lock vs the Dallas Cowboys 118.8
Drew Lock vs. the Minnesota Vikings 104.7
Gardner Minshew vs the Buffalo Bills 116.7
Holston Ahlers vs the Minnesota Vikings 151
Jameis WInston vs the Kansas City Chiefs 121.8
Jimmy Garoppolo vs the Los Angeles Rams 107.3
John Wolford vs the New York Jets 118.8
Jordan Love vs the Cincinnati Bengals 112.9
Josh Johnson vs the Philadelphia Eagles 101
Justin Fields vs the Tennessee Titans 158.3
Kellen Mond vs the Washington Commanders 105.9
Kenny Pickett vs the Buffalo Bills 149
Kenny Pickett vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 147.9
Kyle Allen vs the Pittsburgh Steelers 120
Kyle Trask vs the New York Jets 106
Mason Rudolph vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 124.3
Matt Barkley vs the Indianapolis Colts 154
Mitchell Trubisky vs the Buffalo Bills 116.8
Nathan Rourke vs the Dallas Cowboys 103.3
Nathan Rourke vs the Detroit Lions 108.7
Nick Mullens vs the Seattle Seahawks 106
Patrick Mahomes vs the Arizona Cardinals 109
Russell Wilson vs. the Arizona Cardinals 102.4
Sam Ehlinger vs the Buffalo Bills 100
Sam Howell vs. the Cleveland Browns 119.1
Shane Buechele vs the Arizona Cardinals 110.4
Shane Buechele vs the New Orleans Saints 102.8
Skylar Thompson vs the Houston Texans 128.2
Tanner McKee vs the Cleveland Browns 100.9
Tim Boyle vs the Carolina Panthers 101.7
Tommy DeVito vs the Carolina Panthers 100
Trey Lance vs the Las Vegas Raiders 111
Tryod Taylor vs the Carolina Panthers 114.3
Tyler Huntley vs the Philadelphia Eagles 126.3
Zach Wilson vs the Carolina Panthers 102.7
Zach Wilson vs the Cleveland Browns 104.2

I honestly might have missed a few. I thought when I started pulling up game box scores I’d have a few examples for the sake of humor and maybe a dozen total names. Oops.

So, is Bagent playing well? Absolutely. In fact, he’s almost playing as well as Tommy DeVito and can even imagine a day that his preseason performance catches up with Drew Lock, Shane Buechele, or Nathan Rourke. Maybe even Kyle Trask.

Some of these performances have been starters feasting on backups, sure. The reality is that there are at least a few names on that list who are probably headed for a practice squad with their fanbases convinced that other teams are poised to scoop them up should they be cut. The very small number of passes fans see during preseason games should be relatively meaningless compared to what the teams see in practice and (more importantly) what the quarterbacks in question bring to the overall equation.

Bagent might end up a really good backup or even starter someday. However, if so it will not be because of how has has performed thus far in the preseason.