The Chicago Bears made their stance clear for weeks. While Justin Fields was out with his dislocated thumb, his status as the starting quarterback would not change. Once he was healthy, the job would go back to him. Rookie Tyson Bagent did everything asked of him, leading the Bears to a 2-2 record in four games. He looked far better than anybody expected, showcasing poise and precision no undrafted player from Division II should ever have. That wasn’t enough to convince the team he deserved more time.
It isn’t a surprise. Fields had two of his best games in a Bears uniform before getting hurt against Minnesota. The Bears have to know if that player was real or simply the byproduct of facing two bad defenses. Most people understand and even agree with the decision. Not everybody, though. Some in NFL circles think Bagent showed more than enough to justify more playing time. Insider Bob McGinn of Go Long TD asked around the league about the various quarterback situations in the NFC North.
He got some significant feedback on the Fields-Bagent situation.
Fields returns Sunday at Detroit after missing 4 ½ games with a thumb injury. “I think he’ll be on a short leash,” one scout said. “They’ve got to make a decision. Do they pick up a fifth-year option on Fields? Do they extend Fields? Or do they get rid of Fields and use one of those two high picks on a quarterback?” Bagent has gone 2-2 with a passer rating of 71.4. He has taken five sacks whereas Fields absorbed 24. “I like Tyson Bagent better than Fields,” one scout said. “He came in and was totally in charge. That rookie has some shit to him.”
Tyson Bagent may get another shot sooner than we think.
A few things must be kept in mind. Fields might be back, but that doesn’t mean he has suddenly learned to protect himself better. He will likely play in a similar style to the one he did before the thumb injury. The next four games will be against three opponents with good defenses. Three of them will be on the road. It would be a surprise if he didn’t take more hard hits during that stretch. A bad angle from one of them could send him right back to the injury report. Bagent would have to step in once again.
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Then there is the Matt Eberflus situation. Most agree the head coach needs to win some games down the stretch to preserve his job security beyond 2023. Fields is 1-5 this season. Tyson Bagent has a better record despite starting fewer games. Not all of that is because of him, but it’s worth noting. Eberflus may feel forced to make a change if Fields can’t turn some of these next few games into wins.
Plenty of fans will call the idea insane. Yet this is a paid NFL professional scout. He evaluates players for a living. For him to say Bagent has something, it might be wise for the Bears to listen. Sure, his production hasn’t been great, but few rookies ever look good four starts into their careers. See #1 overall pick Bryce Young for a reminder.