Chicago Bears: Winner of battle for QB2 might be a surprise

The Chicago Bears already named Caleb Williams the starting quarterback for 2024. Now the battle for QB2 starts and the winner could be a surprise.
Carolina Panthers v Chicago Bears
Carolina Panthers v Chicago Bears / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The Chicago Bears hit another key moment in their offseason. After finishing up their rookie camp, the team started their Offseason Training Activities (OTAs). While this is a voluntary session, nearly all of the players will appear, unless there is an injury or important matter that has to be taken care of.

This is a very competitive team now. Gone are the days when certain players could oaf and still be guaranteed a position. There is depth all around the roster. Additionally, there is a new coaching staff. Shane Waldron replaces Luke Getsy as offensive coordinator. There is a new offensive system and no one wants to start behind.

On defense, head coach Matt Ebeflus will continue to call the plays. However, he has a defensive coordinator. Last season, Allen Williams had to resign early in the season. Instead of hiring another defensive coordinator the Chicago Bears decided to let Eberflus, who was the Indianapolis Colts' defensive coordinator before taking the head coaching job in Chicago, took over.

While Caleb Williams was named the starting quarterback, the battle for QB2 is on. In an important season, the one who ends up backing Williams could be a surprise.

The most important position that underwent a big change is quarterback. General Manager Ryan Poles banished Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers so he could bring his guy, Caleb Williams. Many consider Williams to be a generational talent. Poles believes it so he gave the keys to the Lamborghini to the rookie.

With the roster getting overhauled, Chicago is on a "Playoffs or bust" trajectory. It might not be said publicly but it is the attitude that is sweeping Halas Hall. Williams is stepping into the best situation that any quarterback selected number one overall has ever had.

The Chicago Bears' trio of DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, and Rome Odunze could be one of the best in the NFL. The Bears also have a very good duo at tight end with Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett. Additionally, the running backs unit has three strong runners and two of them who can also be great assets in the passing game.

Things are set up for Williams to succeed and do big things right from the start of his career.

The Bears need to have a good option behind Williams or they could go down in flames

While the fans expect Williams to lead the Bears into the heavens, the person who backs him up will be important. One of the most important things that teams have to handle is injuries. With bigger, faster, and stronger players, it's not if a player gets injured but when.

With the Bears expecting to make a playoff run, it is critical for them to have a Plan B in place, especially at quarterback. We have seen many teams' seasons destroyed by an injury to their quarterback. Heck, we saw it happen last season with the New York Jets and Aaron Rodgers. They were a playoff favorite after they traded for the future Hall of Fame quarterback.

Four plays into the season, however, Rodgers suffered an Achilles injury that shut down his season. It also shut down the Jets' hopes since they did not have a good option behind Rodgers.

The Bears have Tyson Bagent and Brett Rypien backing up Williams. Bagent is the undrafted rookie who came out of nowhere last season to beat out presumptive backup PJ Walker. He ended up playing five games, four of them starts.

Bagent completed 65.7 percent of his passes. However, most of his completions were of the short-to-intermediate variety. He struggled to throw the ball downfield. Teams picked that up quickly. In his Week 9 start against the New Orleans Saints he struggled mightily to go downfield.

The Saints practically dared Bagent to throw the ball downfield. He tried but failed to hurt New Orleans for doing that. He had three interceptions and a fumble lost in a 24-17 loss. The defense did a great job of keeping the Bears in the game but Bagent and the offense continually shot themselves in the foot.

This new-look offense has a lot of speed. Going downfield is crucial for success. Moore, Allen, and Odunze have the great combination of route-running and speed to get away from the defense and make plays deep downfield. The Bears also have Tyler Scott. Scott has great speed as well and is a big-play threat at any time. He averaged 46.7 yards per touchdown play in college.

The quarterback has to get the ball to them to open things up. If the defense has to be worried about the deep ball it causes many problems. First, they won't be able to cover everyone. Second, when they have to add personnel downfield things open up underneath. That is where the tight ends could thrive. Also, it opens up space for the running backs to make big runs.

Rypien is familiar with Waldron's system. That system was run with the Los Angeles Rams, where he was in 2023. He could help with the alignments and terminology a bit. He might not provide much else besides that, however.

In his four years in the league, Rypien has completed just 58.3 percent of his passes. Last season, that percentage was even lower at 47.4 percent. He has more than double the number of interceptions that he has touchdowns (four touchdowns to nine interceptions).

Should WIlliams go down, the Bears could be in trouble. Sure, Bagent will make the short and medium passes. However, as we saw last season, teams know he struggles with the deep ball. They will bring in their defense and dare him to make those throws. Bagent needs to start making those throws.

It isn't clear what Rypien can do. He has just struggled since he entered the league. How he handles this high-octane offense is in question. Could he improve with a better conditioning program that increases his arm strength or is it something that he will always have trouble with?

The winner of the QB2 battle might not even be on the roster yet

Depending on how the QB2 battle bares out, Poles could be scouring the waiver wire to find his backup. He does not want his rebuild to be torn down by one injury. Bagent might end up becoming a good option in the future. That is why the Bears could keep him as QB3. Teams are allowed to carry three quarterbacks in games now. That rule was changed last season.

There are some veterans who could help and be available. There are some available right now as well.

For example, Ryan Tannehill is still an available free agent. While he might not be the same quarterback he was years ago, he still has enough in the tank to be a good backup. Should Williams go down for an extended period, he has the experience to step up.

We saw what Joe Flacco did for the Cleveland Browns after Deshaun Watson went down and the backups weren't able to do the job consistently. Flacco led the Browns into the playoffs. Tannehill can do something similar if needed.

Additionally, Tennehill has been through the wars. There is not a situation he hasn't seen. He can not only step up and make plays but also mentor the rookie Williams. Williams may have been a superstar in college but that means nothing now that he is in the pros. The game is faster and the teams are better.

Williams draws comparisons to Patrick Mahomes. Well, Mahomes had his mentor in Alex Smith in his rookie season. Smith tutored Mahomes and helped him get adjusted to the NFL life. Of course, Mahomes sat his rookie season while Williams will be starting. He could still be mentored by a seasoned veteran, however.


Poles and the Chicago Bears have to get this right. It is better to be proactive and be prepared for the worst and not need it than need it and not be prepared. Poles does not want what happened to the Jets happen to his team.