The main concern for Chicago Bears fans throughout training camp has been how quarterback Justin Fields has developed. The team will go only as far as he could take them. People who follow the team know Chicago has not had a true franchise quarterback.
With a lot of talent surrounding him, there is a lot of hope pinned on Fields. He showed flashes of what he could do in his first two seasons but has not done it consistently. Now people want to see him be a consistent winner with his legs and arm.
While the Fields situation is the most important item on the Chicago Bears’ agenda, there is also the matter of his backup. The Bears signed former Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker to back up Fields.
Walker has a similar game to Fields, though not as talented. He can tuck the ball and run it and also has a strong arm to make throws. The thought was that he could seamlessly take over should Fields get injured.
Something happened on the way to crowning Walker the main backup job. He has not had the greatest training camp so far, missing some easy throws and just looking uncomfortable. Walker’s struggles continued into the preseason games. He has only gone 5-12 for 25 yards and an interception. He has struggled to move the offense down the field.
While Walker struggles, the other quarterbacks on the team have played well. Nathan Peterman has gone 14-24 for 173 yards and a touchdown.
The other quarterback, Tyson Bagent, has gone 13-15 for 113 yards. Bagent also has a rushing touchdown.
In last weekend’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts, both Bagent and Peterman led touchdown drives and looked good. Bagent’s was especially impressive. He led a 17-play, 92-yard drive that took up 9:25 off the clock. The drive finished with him running it in from two yards for the score.
Bagent started out as an unknown, undrafted rookie. Could he now compete for the Chicago Bears backup quarterback job?
The way Bagent looks has been impressive. He looked good in training camp and continued that success in two preseason games. As good as he has played, some are wondering if he could win the QB2 job.
Yes, Peterman has also looked good. However, we saw what he could do in real games and it doesn’t look pretty. He has 13 career games, starting five of them. He owns a 1-4 record and has completed just 53.1 percent of his passes for 712 yards. He has four touchdowns against 13 interceptions.
Walker, meanwhile, has played in 15 games, starting seven. He owns a 4-3 record and has completed 57.5 percent of his passes for 1,461 yards. He has 5 touchdown passes against 11 interceptions.
Neither Walker nor Peterman has had a great track record. Walker offers more with his running ability.
With their history, Bagent could go from an undrafted rookie trying to make the team to the main backup. It’s not like we haven’t seen this before. We saw it with linebacker Jack Sanborn last season. Head coach Matt Eberflus is willing to give a rookie a chance at a key position if that player shows he can do the job. The Bears had five rookie starters last season so giving a rookie a backup job is not beyond the realm of possibility.
Bagent had an impressive college career. He was a four-year starter for Shephard University and owns the record for career touchdowns in all divisions with 159. He also won the Harlon Hill Award, Division II’s version of the Heisman Trophy.
Bagent also shined in the Senior Bowl. He played on the American team, which was coached by Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. That led to him signing with Chicago after he went undrafted.
Despite the struggles, Walker is likely the leader for the QB2 job. He has played with the ones and twos. Additionally, the Chicago Bears signed him to a 2-year, $4.15 million deal with $2 million guaranteed.
As I mentioned, if a rookie is playing well then Eberflus, along with general manager Ryan Poles, will have no problem rewarding that player. When asked about Bagent competing for the backup quarterback job, Eberflus said that he has an open mind.
"I think everything’s open right now. I really do. I think if you have a closed mind, then if somebody is rising or executing, you always never put a ceiling on any player… You always look for the best in every guy, and you’ll see guys, all of a sudden they’ll get into a game and they start rising up and it’s easy for them and they can execute in that moment and in those moments."
Another advantage Walker has is that he played with wide receiver D.J. Moore. Moore is an elite wide receiver who looks to help Fields. If something does happen to Fields, it’s good to know that Walker already has some chemistry with Moore.
It might be too much to have Bagent become the backup quarterback. He is still trying to get his bearings. It is interesting to note that he came in before Peterman in the game against the Colts. After playing mop-up duty in the preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans, it is good to see him getting work with some players who likely make the team.
With two good performances, giving Bagent more playing team with the more talented players on the offense will do him good. The coaching staff gets to see how he does with better talent and how he performs against the opponents’ better players. That will give everyone a better idea of how to grade him.
Bagent has certainly given people something to talk about other than Fields. He showed his talent in college and then looked good against some of the best players in the draft. Now he earned a chance to play against better talent. If he can do the same against good NFL players, he should gain a roster spot.