Bears Insider

Schrock's Bears Report Card: Grading Tyson Bagent, offense, defense in Panthers win

The Bears won ugly against the Panthers, but the report card looks pretty after a victory they couldn't let slip through their fingers

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CHICAGO -- It wasn't pretty, far from it. But for the first time in 410 days, the Bears won a one-score game, thanks to a 16-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field on Thursday night.

The last time the Bears won a one-score game was when Roquan Smith picked off Davis Mills to set up a game-winning field goal in Week 3 against the Houston Texans last season.

In fairness, the Bears have won only four games since that day, if you include Thursday night's win. It has been an uphill battle. One that has seen them win three games by double digits but fail every time they had a chance to come out on top of a one-score game.

Things were different Thursday.

A large part of the credit for the Bears' win Thursday should go to the Panthers' horrific offense. It had no plan, no tricks, and no point.

But if you're going to face that level of pointless attack, you need to shut it down.

The Bears' defense did that in a banner day for a unit gaining health and confidence.

That's where this report starts:

Pass defense

The Bears mixed looks and coverages all night against No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young, and that plan worked to perfection.

Young finished the day 21-for-38 for 185 yards and averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt. The Panthers' passing attack was a soggy house of cards built out of checkdowns and dump-offs.

Outside of a dart on a 45-yard strike to Mike Strachan, Young looked pedestrian, and the Panthers' aerial attack never got off the tarmac.

"We did a lot of things with giving him different looks and things he hasn't seen on film," safety Eddie Jackson said after the win. "We just kept switching it up in the backend with us and playing tight coverage."

With Young guess, the Bears' defense took control in the second half and carried the team to win.

"It's a good feeling," Jackson said. "That's what you want to do against a quarterback, no matter if he's a rookie or a 10-to-12-year vet. You always want to give them good looks because they know where they are going with the ball before the snap if you give them that pre-snap look, so we just wanted to keep disguising. Moving in and moving out -- the linebackers, the DBs. I felt like we kind of confused him a little bit."

The Bears' defensive line also had its best game of the season, notching three sacks and nine hurries.

New edge rusher Montez Sweat had three hurries and eight total pressures, per Next Gen Stats.

"Those guys, we want them to go get it," head coach Matt Eberflus said of the pass rush's effectiveness. "Didn't do a lot of stunts or movements. I did that with mostly with some of the pressures, but yeah, just let them pin and go because it was being effective. It really was effective. Not only on third down. It was effective even in early downs, so they did a good job."

It was a good day for the pass defense. Only the turnovers were missing.


Run defense

There's not much to grade here.

The Panthers are a poor running team, and the Bears' constantly improving run defense snuffed them out fast Thursday night.

Carolina rushed for just 43 total yards on 2.7 yards per rush.

Young had two nice scrambles on the first drive, but the Bears shut that down after the opening series.

This Bears' run defense has been something special of late.


Pass offense

It wasn't Tyson Bagent's best night, but the undrafted rookie did enough to get the Bears the win and move to 2-2 as a starter.

Bagent was off-target for most of the night. He seemed hesitant to unload downfield and got away with several poor throws in the first half.

He wasn't sharp, but he didn't make the back-breaking mistakes that he did last week in the Bears' 24-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Bagent finished the day 20-for-33 for 162 yards. He was erratic and missed a couple of wide-open shot plays that could have allowed the Bears to win the game comfortably.

In what likely is his final start before Justin Fields returns, Bagent was good enough to get back to .500 as the starter and help steer the Bears to a game they couldn't lose."

"He's 2-2. That's pretty good for a rookie," wide receiver DJ Moore said of Bagent. "I hope he builds on that and continues to keep growing."

The Bears' passing game was unexplosive and clunky for most of Thursday night's food fight. But it's the best type of win in the NFL -- one that comes with a lot to work on.

"It wasn't the prettiest performance," Moore said. "But we found a way to win. That's all that matters in this league. Figure it out this next game."

Tyson Bagent GRADE: C-

Run offense

D'Onta Foreman showed toughness and grit against his former team.

The Bears running back tweaked his ankle early in the game and had to go to the medical tent in the first half. Foreman gutted it out and returned to run for 80 yards on 21 carries.

As a team, the Bears ran for 133 yards on 37 rushes for 3.6 yards per attempt.

With the passing game in a rut, the Panthers knew the Bears would look to pound the rock. Foreman did a good job of grinding out some tough yards, but the Bears could not consistently impose their will on the Panthers in the ground game.

Rookie Roschon Johnson rushed for just 18 yards on five carries. With Khalil Herbert potentially coming back next week, Johnson's usage could start to dip.

The offensive line had some blown assignments in the run game and wasn't as powerful as it has been at points this season.

A decent effort, but there's a lot of room for improvement.



The Bears continue to be a sloppy operation. They were penalized seven more times Thursday night for 44 yards. Even if you take out the bad pass interference calls on DJ Moore (one of which was declined), the Bears' coaches still have a lot to clean up.

The tackling was spotty in the first half, especially on Ihmir Smith-Marsette's 79-yard punt return touchdown that gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead. The Bears cleaned things up for the most part and didn't make any egregious mistakes that have become commonplace this season.

Eberflus said he had something "up his sleeves" at halftime. We're still waiting to find out what tricks he has -- or perhaps it was just the realization the Panthers are an atrocious operation that his defense could manhandle.

No mistakes. No confounding coaching decisions.

That's a win.


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