Tyson Bagent

Bears excited about QB2 competition Tyson Bagent ‘created'

The Bears didn't enter camp with a backup quarterback competition, but Tyson Bagent has forced their hand

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears entered training camp with a concrete idea of what their quarterback room would look like entering the 2023 regular season. It would be Justin Fields and P.J. Walker. Full stop.

But undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent has altered that equation and finds himself squarely in the mix to win the backup quarterback job heading into Saturday's preseason finale against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. The Bears didn't manufacture a backup quarterback competition to motivate Walker, who has struggled mightily in camp. Bagent merely forced their hand.

"That's still a competition," head coach Matt Eberflus said Thursday at Halas Hall when asked who his backup would be against the Bills. "As we've said all along, and we're open to that. That's exciting. And that was created. It wasn't like we created it — when I say we, the coaching staff. That was created by pure competition. Like I said, if you keep an open mind and you let things play out, then good things will happen. A lot of times, I've seen that coaches predetermine things a lot of times, and we just based it on performances, and we're going to continue to do that and let the competition play itself out."

The Bears signed Bagent, a record-setting Division II quarterback at Shepherd, after he went undrafted in May. Bagent dove headfirst into the playbook, worked diligently at learning the footwork needed to execute the offense, and arrived at camp hoping to do enough to either make the backend of the roster or secure a practice squad spot.

He did more than that.

Bagent stacked good days on good days in the early days of camp, while Walker struggled to find rhythm and consistency with the second-team offense. Bagent had an unspectacular preseason debut but flashed in the Bears' second preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.

With Fields inactive, the Bears made Bagent the backup to Walker. The kid from Martinsburg, West Virginia, took over early in the second quarter with the ball at the Bears' 8-yard line.

What happened next was surgical, as Bagent engineered a 17-play, 92-yard touchdown drive to kick the door to the backup quarterback role so open it practically flew off the hinges. Bagent went 7-for-8 for 61 yards on the drive and capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown run. He finished the night 9-for-10 for 76 yards.

"He was calm. Super calm," wide receiver Darnell Mooney said Tuesday after practice at Halas Hall. "He was electric. I mean just looking at him with the quick game just getting the ball out wherever he wanted to go. That's where he was going. He wasn't indecisive. He was very understanding of what he wanted to do. It was beautiful to watch. I had the headset on. I know what play was going on. Definitely beautiful to watch for sure, especially from him."

Bagent showed poise and command in Indianapolis. His decisions were quick, and his throws were on time.

What Bagent showed during two series against the Colts is what the Bears picked up on at the Senior Bowl and have seen since he arrived at Halas Hall.

He's got the tools. You don't throw 159 career touchdown passes at any level without talent. But he's got a little something extra.

"I think he’s shown some poise. I think he’s shown a little bit of moxie to him," Bears quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said Wednesday. "When you talk to him, he carries himself like somebody that’s very confidence, confident in his abilities, and he’s got a little swagger to him. You like that.

"I think you have to have a demeanor where you have confidence and you have moxie," Janocko continued later. "You have to have a demeanor that you’re a winner. Yeah, absolutely something that we look for in the evaluation process, and we wouldn’t want a guy in here that doesn’t have that."

Eberflus wouldn't reveal if Walker or Bagent would be the backup quarterback behind Fields on Saturday. Smart money is on Walker getting another chance to lock up his spot before Bagent makes his final case to be QB2.

That's something the Bears didn't anticipate being in the cards one month ago. Tyson Bagent made it materialize with hard work, quality play, a calm demeanor, and an it factor that's starting to show.

We'll soon see if it's enough to go from enticing practice squad hopeful to Fields' backup.

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