The Bears with a New Offensive Coordinator Will Seek Upgrades at Tight End

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions. While answering an endless stream of fans who support keeping Justin Fields at quarterback he managed to slip one in about something else that may turn out to be related to an interesting development for the upcoming season:

With Cole Kmet under contract for the foreseeable future and Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis low-usage guys this year, is there any chance the Bears would draft Brock Bowers if he falls to them? — Mike F., Chicago

Bowers is an interesting prospect and a highly skilled tight end. The Bears would have to desire to use a ton of two-tight-end formations if they invested in Bowers. It’s more likely they would select a wide receiver as they don’t have a No. 2 opposite DJ Moore under contract right now and they probably want to create some competition for Tyler Scott for the No. 3 role.

New offensive coordinator Shane Waldron is a former tight end in the NFL. Last year the Seattle Seahawks ran more three tight end formations than any team in the NFL. They were in the top five in double tight end formations.

I think there’s very little doubt that we’re going to see more use of the tight end in Chicago next year. To me that means they are definitely going to want to upgrade the position with a better player opposite Kmet.

Biggs makes an excellent point and it’s one that I’m sure the vast majority of Chicago Bears fans share. That is, they need help at wide receiver opposite Moore. That will likely have through come to the draft. On the other hand, the upgrade at tight end doesn’t have to be a high draft pick. But they’re going to have to find upgrades at the position somewhere if they’re going to fulfill what is likely to be Waldron’s vision for the offense. It’s something to keep an eye on.

Quick Comments: Bears at Packers 1/7/24


  1. The Bears came out with a reasonably conservative game plan to begin the game. Lots of short passes and running plays. Its possible that offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was trying to compensate for weakness on the interior of the offensive line. In any case, plans like that require really sharp and consistent execution that the Bears sometimes don’t exhibit. You wondered if they were trying to lull Green Bay to set up some shot plays. They never came.
  2. Fields was reasonably accurate today, especially when throwing to DJ Moore or when his first read otherwise was open. Like most quarterbacks, he’s at his best when he can hit his back foot and fire. He was, of course, also quite good throwing on the move.
  3. I was also impressed by the way the Bears ran the ball, though the more they depended on it, the less successful it was.
  4. The Packers got a lot of pressure on Fields up the middle where Dan Feeney was playing center and where Nate Davis left the game in the second quarter. The Bears need to acquire more depth in the middle of the line in the offseason. Tevin Jenkins had a rough day.


  1. Jordan Love obviously knows what he’s doing against the blitz. The Bears had a free rush in the first series and he got the ball out to his hot receiver very quickly. Nice work.
  2. Love does a good job of throwing with anticipation. He’s reasonably accurate. He also drops back deep and makes the defensive linemen really run to get to him.
  3. The Bears looked to me like they were playing mostly zone defense. This was, perhaps, an effort to cover for the absence of Jaylon Johnson. The Packers did a reasonably good job of finding holes in the backfield, though. The truth is that you can’t just sit in zone and expect to beat the Packers. You have to be able challenge them.
  4. I was impressed by the blocking that the Packers were doing up front. It looked like good fundamental football there. The Packers mostly won the battle up front on the offensive side.
  5. What a potentially huge play at the end of the first half when the Packers receiver let the clock run out while in easy field goal distance. A boner truly worthy of the Bears, not the Packers. I might point out that Love tried to throw an interception in the end zone the play before. Not a great way to handle that kind of situation. Add that to the fumble that Love gave up to Jaquan Brisker right along the boundary and maybe the Packers should avoid making plays along that sideline.
  6. The Packers did a good job of neutralizing Montez Sweat, who had very little impact on the game.
  7. Much will be made of Love’s performance, and rightfully so. But the Packers ran for over 5 yards per carry. That was a pretty big aspect of their win.


  1. Cairo Santos entered the game 32 of 35 for the season (91.4%). He needed to finish above 90% to get a $500,000 bonus. He went 3 for 3 to maintain the standard and get the money.
  2. Velus Jones was especially good in the kick return game today. the Bears got reasonably good starting position.
  3. Players on both sides were slipping all over the turf today. Lambeau has a hybrid turf that I’m guessing might be a little tricky, especially if its damp.
  4. This game must have been a great thing for CBS. The last playoff spot in the NFC went straight through Green Bay. Everyone had an eye on the game.
  5. I don’t think that I’ve ever watched a game with so few penalties on either side. The Bears had one holding call. That was it. An astoundingly clean game.
  6. This is from The Athletic yesterday morning.

“There are two advanced stats we can use to judge this. QBR takes into account a player’s rushing, and Fields’ QBR of 46.3 ranks 22nd in the NFL. That’s down from 56.3 last season, when he ran for 500 more yards. For anyone curious, Mitch Trubisky had the third-best QBR in 2018 (he was the 10th-best passer and No. 1 runner).

“We can also look at EPA — expected points added — per dropback, which includes Fields’ scrambles. Per TruMedia, that is -0.05, which ranks 25th in the league. If we want to just isolate Fields’ post-injury play, he’s 20th in EPA per dropback since Week 11. Packers quarterback Jordan Love ranks No. 1.

“When it comes to gross yards output, Fields is 20th in the league in total yards. Since Week 11, he ranks 14th.

Today Fields was 11 for 16 for 148 yards passing. He ran for 27 yards. So I don’t see the statistics above improving.

Do you really want to keep a guy with those stats over the best QB in this draft?

Quick Game Comments: Falcons at Bears


  1. DeMarcus Walker lost contain on the second play of the game and B.J. Robinson went for 21 yards. That can’t happen with him on the field. Its certain death.
  2. After Taylor Heinicke made some good yardage running the ball in the first quarter, it was good to see the Bears defense get a bit more disciplined with their rush and shut him down a little. The screen play for a touchdown was also a warning shot that I think was heeded.
  3. I hated seeing Jaylon Johnson walk off the field injured in what has been a wonderful contract run. Terell Smith took his place and I didn’t see him come back out.
  4. The defense was generally good today but the opponent should be accounted for. The Bears were very lucky on multiple occasions where receivers were running wide open and Heinicke either was under pressure or didn’t see him.


  1. With two defenses that are pretty good against the run, this game was always going to be about who could throw the ball. The DJ Moore – Justin Fields connection was on full display in the first set of downs as Field threw 3 of his first 6 passes in his direction and the bet here is that Fields was staring right at Moore waiting for him to come open for about 4 seconds before dumping it off to Roschon Johnson on another one. The touchdown throw to Moore had to be perfect and it was. The trend continued from there.
  2. Related to #1, Moore was lining up in the slot and in single coverage all day. The Bears will take that every time. Hence Moore got the vast majority of the targets. Surprisingly, the Falcons were apparently happy with that because they never adjusted to do much of anything different.
  3. Velus Jones was actually lined up as a running back in the second series. It wasn’t gadget play. He’s now apparently one more step closer to running back.
  4. I’ve been unable to see the last 2 games live but, along with this game, it has been notable how much Nate Davis is struggling right now. He was signed as a major piece in free agency and, along with the weakness at center, he’s contributing to some serious problems with the blocking in the center of the line.
  5. Whether Fields had the ball or not someone on the Atlanta defense was always in charge of attacking him. Not just spying him but often actually attacking him just to make sure that if he had it, they’d have someone to bring him down. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.
  6. Generally speaking wonderful protection for Fields by the offensive line today. He saw pressure every once in a while but there were times when he had all day to throw.


  1. Tyler Scott had a two or three drops in this game that cost the Bears including one touchdown. That’s disappointing.
  2. I wasn’t thrilled by the fact that Justin Jones’s biggest contribution today was to gift the Falcons a first down in the fourth quarter by committing a personal foul. The Falcons eventually scored a touchdown.
  3. I was a little surprised that the Bears didn’t decide to run the clock down with 6 minutes left in the game and a 10 point lead from field goal position. I like the aggression but I wonder if that could have been a bit too much.
  4. The game was decided, as is often the case, by turnovers. The Bears had 4 interceptions. The Bears had zero turnovers as Fields did a nice job of protecting the ball.
  5. I know that this is a Bears blog but my main take away from this game was that the Falcons are a poorly coached team. They missed a ton of opportunities and came out with a poor, poor defensive game plan. They did nothing to try to confuse Fields and made everything easy by not giving DJ Moore enough attention. Going into this game my gut feeling was that Arthur Smith would be back. But if this game was any example, I can’t imagine he survives.
  6. Congratulations to the Bears. They got the number one overall pick again but managed to do it without all of the losing this time.

Lions at Bears 9/10/23


  1. The Bears came out running the ball a lot. Part of that was Justin Fields dropping back and running from the pocket but most of them were designed running plays. Evidently they decided that’s the way to beat the Lions.
  2. The last time the Bears faced the Lions the Lions sold out to the run whenever D’Onta Foreman was on the field. Today they didn’t do that. Perhaps they’ve concluded that Foreman is more versatile than they (and I) thought. Foreman had one or two nice catches today. I wasn’t watching his pass blocking too closely but that’s probably getting better as well.
  3. Fields took the team on his back today with his ability to run the ball early. It was awesome to watch. Unfortunately, as often happens in the NFL, the Lions eventually stopped it. It was tougher sledding from there.
  4. I wasn’t thrilled to see Fields take a sack in the first quarter on 3rd down making a 36 yard field goal into the 46 yarder. Cairo Santos made it o no harm done. But ideally you have a quarterback who sees that blitz coming and gets the ball out.
  5. Having DJ Moore run the ball in for a touchdown in the first quarter was a good play. Lining him up on fourth and a long 1 in the second quarter…? Too cute, boys.
  6. A sub par effort from the offensive line, especially the interior, against a Lions defensive front that played much better than they did the first time these teams played in Detroit.
  7. I thought I detected a bit more of an effort today to get the ball to Darnell Mooney. AS I noted early in the season, he’s been largely ignored.
    Eventually I stopped talking about it because it just became the norm. But I think everyone would agree that it shouldn’t be.
  8. I also thought that it was interesting that the Bears eventually started feeding Cole Kmet, who they apparently thought they had in a mismatch in coverage. Kmet has become a reliable go to crutch for Fields almost as much as Moore is.
  9. Wonderful play by Fields near the end of the third quarter. Fields got the Lions to jump offsides and took the free play to throw a deep ball to DJ Moore for a touchdown. Usually I’m watching other teams do that. Nice work.
  10. I don’t criticize play calling much but the call on the two point conversion at the beginning of the fourth quarter today was pretty bad. One receiver on a route and it was DJ Moore, you you knew they would cover if no one else.
  11. Fields had more than the usual amount of trouble throwing outside the numbers on pass routes to Kmet and especially Mooney. Usually with his strong arm he manages those throws pretty well.


  1. Sam Laporta seems to be to be uncoverable. It doesn’t hurt that Jared Goff has the ability to place the ball impeccably in tight coverage.
  2. The Lions did some very interesting things with their game plan today. For instance, I thought that it was notable that the Lions eventually concluded that they could attack the NFL’s number 1 ranked run defense to the outside. And it worked. That’s good coaching staff.
  3. Having said that, I also thought that it was notable that the Bears made adjustments to stop some of the things that the Lions were doing. They started to mug the line and drop out to make Goff read the defense and decide when to run. That little bit of doubt affected him (wait until they play the Vikings). They also flat out defended the run better.
  4. The Lions were really picking on Tyreek Stevenson today. There were plays there to be made on both sides.
  5. I thought that the Bears defensive line continued to get decent pressure on the quarterback. They created a lot of opportunities by playing games up front with stunts.
  6. Big stop by the Bears defense in the fourth quarter on fourth and short on the Detroit side of the field. The penetration by the defensive line was marvelous. They’re play so well of late.
  7. The Bears were trying really hard to blow this game again. 4th and 17 with 5 minutes left at the Chicago 38 and the Bears needed Amon Ra St. Brown to drop a very catchable pass to hold the line. That just can’t happen.


  1. Of course the big reason the Bears came out on top here was that they won the turnover battle. There was a nice interception from Jaylon Johnson in the second quarter. That’s money in the bank right there. As the season has rolled on, my gut has been telling me more and more that the Bears are eventually going to pay that guy. There was a back breaking fumbled snap by the Lions at the end of the third quarter. And finally Tremaine Edmunds basically put the game away on an interception on fourth and forever with just over 2 minutes left.
  2. Sounded like there were a lot of Lions fans there today. Kudos to them for their support. Shame on the gutless Bears fans that sold them the tickets.
  3. Already very tired of the disco Santa commercial. Disco is dead. Let’s leave it that way.
  4. The one overwhelming thought that I have after this game is the one that I’ve been having for a while. The Bears team is noticeably improving. They’re completely different form the guys we watched get destroyed by the Packers in the first game of the year. I know that many are looking forward to seeing the coaching staff go after this year. More and more I’m thinking its not likely to happen. And more and more I’m thinking that’s the right call to make.

Low Expectations and Fan Apathy Could Figure into Bears 2024 Decisions

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune has 10 thoughts after the Bears blew a big lead in the last 4 minutes at Detroit on Sunday:

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to make a case for why [Matt Eberflus] should remain in his position in 2024. The Bears are again two games away from their first two-game winning streak under Eberflus. They have yet to defeat an opponent with a winning record. They are winless against NFC North teams since the beginning of the 2022 season.”

“‘This is an ugly loss right here,’ defensive end DeMarcus Walker said. ‘I feel like this is the worst one. I don’t know, man. I’ve seen a lot of football, but, damn, you know. I don’t know, man. Honestly, I couldn’t answer your questions. I’ve got to watch the film. Because I really want to see, like, what the (expletive) happened.’

“That’s what makes it disingenuous to sort through a game like this and pull out the positives — and there were plenty — while glossing over the ‘what the (expletive) happened.'”

Some of you who follow this blog may remember that I ended my post on Sunday with a relatively positive assessment of the Bears.

“Between a couple of games pre-injury and this game, [Justin] Fields has looked much better to me. The day that he complained about how his head was spinning with all of the things that he was supposed to be looking at was a turning point. I’m guessing that the Bears simplified the offense and tailored it more to his strengths at that point. The defense was notably more opportunistic than usual today and the defensive line looks better. The team over all has come a a long way since that first miserable game against the Packers.”

I wasn’t trying to be “disingenuous” when I wrote that. It was what I genuinely thought and, as Biggs, himself, admits, what I said is basically true. But reading Biggs’ comment, I decided to take a close look at my own feelings about this game and why those were my final thoughts of the night when the Bears failed to finish again instead of something more negative.

The first thing is that, like Biggs, I’m starting to think about Eberflus’s future. In doing so, I’m trying to be balanced. I definitely think that Eberflus’s team should be winning more games. No doubt about it. But, probably like most fans, I’m tired of just starting over and over again on the coaching merry-go-round.

Like the majority of the Bears hires over the last 30 years, Eberflus is a first time head coach. When you hire a guy like that you have to realize that he’s going to have to grow into the position. Basically, he’s getting on the job training. Under those circumstances, you have to ask yourself if you are pulling the plug too early on a guy who could potentially be a good head coach if you give him more time.

Why do I think that maybe he could potentially be a good head coach in the future? When I think about it, I think about the improvements that I see. And I’m trying to balance that against all of the negatives and failures. It’s not a slam dunk decision.

But that doesn’t completely explain why I wasn’t raging at the end after yet another tough loss. The complete answer is that, well, I think I’ve done the one thing that you don’t want your your young football team to do. I’ve gotten used to losing.

My expectations for this team are so low right now that I can’t really find it in myself to get angry any more. Its been five years of this stuff since 2018 and it wears you down.

I watch the Bears on Sunday and I’m completely numb. And I think that most fans are, too.

That’s really bad new for the Bears. Good or bad, angry or sad, the last thing that you want your fans to be is apathetic. The Bears have to do something to inject more excitement into the fan base. It probably hasn’t affected the profits much. Yet. But I’ll bet things like jersey sales are already way down. Eventually it will affect the bottom line and, you wonder if, in the end, that will figure into the Eberflus decision the most.

Quick Comments: Bears at Lions 11/19/23


  1. The Lions appear to be very wary of Justin Fields legs. They tried to be very disciplined in their pass rush. Fields took to leaving the pocket early but even then the Lions looked more to me like they were just trying to corral him.
  2. It was notable that the Bears had Fields running with the ball so often early. The read option was involved. These plays involve simple reads and simply allow Fields to take off. I’m wondering if the Bears simplified the offense for Fields.
  3. Fields passes did not look like they were affected by the thumb to me. He threw a wonderful touchdown pass to DJ Moore late in the third quarter.
  4. Fields did a good job of taking underneath throws when needed today.
  5. Its funny how often Fields finds DJ Moore late in a down. Moore seems to have a gift for finding ways to get open when the play breaks down.
  6. The Lions looked to me like they were relying heavily on man-to-man defense. It was an interesting choice from a team that doesn’t have what I would consider to be a great defensive backfield. I suppose they didn’t respect the Bears receivers outside of DJ Moore much.
  7. On a related note, it was interesting to see the Lions start to crash the line of scrimmage late in the first quarter, especially when D’Onta Foreman was in the game. That’s probably because they know that he’s likely to run if he’s in as he’s not great at anything else that running backs do They sold out to the run and challenged Fields to beat them with his arm. It put more pressure on the Lions defensive backfield.
  8. On a related note to that, Khalil Herbert never looks to me like he hits the holes as hard as Foreman. But I know he’s better in pretty much every other way. What the Lions are doing when Foreman is in the game is probably related to why the Bears didn’t have him on the active roster very often early in the year.
  9. First and goal from the Lions 1/2 yard line and I’m surprised the Bears didn’t go to the “tush push”. The Bears scored on a run by D’Onta Foreman. Notably they tried the sneak later in the fourth quarter. It failed.
  10. Lucas Patrick goes down and Dan Feeney is ahead of Cody Whitehair on the depth chart at center? They gave up on Whitehair fast. Fields looked like he was having a hard time getting on the same page as Feeney.
  11. The Lions were also bringing heavy pressure on third down. It certainly looked to me like an opportunity for a screen pass or something similar.
  12. I would swear that Tyler Scott slowed down just a little bit near the end of the deep pass on 3rd and long with 2:30 left in the game. He’d have had it otherwise and that might have been the game.
  13. With all of the nice things that there were to say about Fields today its still stands that when he had to pass at the end of the game, he lost any feel for the pocket that he might have and he failed.


  1. You can always count on Mark Schlereth to emphasize offensive line play. Loved his comment about the about 100 year old TE Marcedes Lewis.
  2. Nice catch by Tyrique Stevenson on his first NFL interception on the Lions first possession. It looked like Jared Goff expected his receiver to break in more but he got bumped off of his route. Goff also either expected him to be deeper or, as the announcers suggested, the pass rush affected him.
  3. Justin Jones looked good today. He seemed to be around the ball a lot.
  4. I thought the Bears were doing a decent job of pushing the pocket on Goff. Most of the time it looked to me like a straight four man rush. They varied it a little bit but nothing special for the most part. It was notable that when they blitzed at the end of the first half, they got burned.
  5. Having said that I thought it was pretty funny when the athletically limited Jack Sanborn blitzed at the beginning of the second half. Goff probably was apoplectic with surprise. He took the sack.
  6. Ad opportunistic as the Bears defense was today, its notable that Jaylon Johnson dropped two interceptions in the middle of a contract year. No making it rain today celebrations today.
  7. Good play by Detroit on the touchdown with about 3 minutes left in the game as they targeted the hole in the Bears zone. But Eddie Jackson was very late getting over to my eye.
  8. People around the country probably think that David Montgomery gave this game some extra effort because he was playing his ex-team. He didn’t. He always plays like that.


  1. Very irritating that the good people at FOX couldn’t keep the time straight as the clock wound down in the first half. Kind of a critical situation with the Lions driving to not know how much time was left.
  2. I’ve never seen a network push a college game like FOX is pushing Ohio St. – Michigan next weekend. I know its a big game but there have been plenty of others that went by without that kind of hype.
  3. Multiple delay of game penalties today along with a wasted timeout were inexcusable. That needs to be cleaned up.
  4. Credit the Detroit crowd. They were loud. They certainly have reason to be excited about this Lions team.
  5. The Lions did everything that they could to blow this game. Crippling penalties. They lost the turnover battle 4 to 1. The Bears doubled the Lions time of possession. But the still pulled it out in the end. Kudos to them.
  6. Between a couple of games pre-injury and this game, Fields has looked much better to me. The day that he complained about how his head was spinning with all of the things that he was supposed to be looking at was a turning point. I’m guessing that the Bears simplified the offense and tailored it more to his strengths at that point. The defense was notably more opportunistic than usual today and the defensive line looks better. The team over all has come a a long way since that first miserable game against the Packers.

Quick Comments: Bears at Saints 11/5/23


  1. The Bears came out executing well with a good mix of passing and timely run plays. The run looked to me like the key to the beating Saints defense coming in. They play a lot of games up front, threaten the blitz and have a lot of late coverage movement. Running the ball negates all of that. And it certainly helps a young quarterback.
  2. Interestingly I think that New Orleans came out giving the Bears plenty of room underneath in coverage. They may have been hoping that they could just let the Bears shoot themselves in the foot.
  3. I would suggest that Cole Kmet should have broken back towards the line of scrimmage for that intercepted pass in the first quarter. Had he done that it wouldn’t have been a turnover.
  4. If you ever want to see how play action is supposed to work in the NFL, take a look at Kmet’s touchdown early in the second quarter. The entire right half of the Saints defense broke in on the fake. That’s one thing I really like about Bagent. He carries those fakes out completely. Its more valuable than many realize.
  5. The Saints allowed Bagent to get outside the pocket on the naked boot way too often. It’s something that other teams have concentrated on shutting down and that has limited both he and Justin Fields when it happens.
  6. Nice to see Darnell Mooney so involved today. Both Bagent and Fields need to keep him more involved. The Bears have to have a wide receiver to go to other than DJ Moore. It was very evident that the Saints weren’t going to let Moore beat them. He was blanketed most of the day.
  7. I love D’Onta Foreman. But he did not always look sharp today. especially early on. There were times when I thought he looked heavy legged. I think he may have wormed up as the game went on.
  8. The Bears were 6 for 12 on some difficult third downs. On the good side, some of those were difficult third and longs.


  1. I think that the Saints might have thought that they could attack the middle of the field. They may have felt like they could take advantage of Jack Sanborn’s presence in place of the injured Tremaine Edmunds.
  2. Edmunds is obviously a good, athletic player but Sanborn’s instincts really show themselves when he plays in the middle. He’s underrated.
  3. To my eye Saints quarterback Derek Carr sure did have a lot of time back there. That’s nothing new but if you were looking for an immediate impact from Montez Sweat you were destined to be disappointed.
  4. On a similar note, the Bears have to get to the quarterback on the blitz. They aren’t good enough to cover good receivers man to man forever. The Saints touchdown in the first quarter was a prime example. Kyler Gordon had him in coverage but Carr had time and Chris Olave found a way to break away from him.
  5. Alvin Kamara is a wonder. There’s nothing he can’t do on the football field. He was a problem all day.


  1. Matt Ryan is a pretty good color man. Lots of insight there. Sometimes these recently retired quarterbacks start that way and then they have less to say as time goes by and the league moves on. It will be interesting to see if he hangs on to perform consistently at this level.
  2. The Bears had 8 damaging penalties for 71 yards. There’s never a good time for penalties but it felt like the Bears were particularly badly timed. The Saints had only 1 for 5 yards. Though it wasn’t the major differeence in the game it definitely hurt them.
  3. I felt that the Bears possession at the end of the third quarter was a turning point in this game. The Bears went three and out seep in their own territory, ending the possession on a little slip screen to Darrynton Evans. It was a conservative play call and I’m not sure it was justified. The Bears punted and the Saints returned to the Bears side of the 50. The Saints offense went through the Bears defense like a hot knife through butter for a touchdown and it was 24-17. Not insurmountable but it certainly felt like it.
  4. Obviously it was the turnovers that made the difference today. Bagent had a tough day with four including three interceptions, 2 in the fourth quarter, and a fumble on the last possession of the game. Significantly, these interceptions weren’t bad reads. They were throws that were a little off in terms of accuracy. A little behind the receiver against a defense where the margins for error were small. Perhaps he’ll be able to work his way out of it by improving his timing with his receivers. But I doubt he’ll get another chance this year with Fields seemingly being close to ready to come back and start on Thursday.
  5. I was really impressed by the Bears ability to make plays in tough situations today. It seemed like time after time they put themselves into a hole with a dumb penalty or a sack and they managed to dig themselves out of it. That’s what good teams do. Now they just need to have to do it less often.

Chances that Bagent Shows that He Can Compete for the Starting Job Are Not Great This Week

Brad Biggs at the Chicago tribune answers your questions.

“What will Tyson Bagent have to do to keep the starting job when Justin Fields is healthy? — Dan B., Roselle

“A handful of versions of this question appeared in the mailbag this week. My first reaction is we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Bagent has one solid start to his credit and wasn’t asked or forced to do a whole lot as the Bears relied on a quick passing game and a dominant running game.”

“A likely best-case scenario for Bagent is he plays well and Fields’ dislocated right thumb needs a little more time to heal and he gets another start the following week in New Orleans. If Bagent can string together three strong starts — and that’s an IF considering the history of this offense — then the Bears probably have a discussion, especially entering a short week with a Thursday game at Soldier Field on Nov. 9 against the Panthers.

“Never say never, but I still envision the Bears turning back to Fields when he’s healthy. But they have to play the games, and the results will give us a much better clue.”

A couple thoughts here.

  1. I tend to agree with Biggs but I look at this from the other side. This season is all about Fields and how well he plays.

The Bears have made a major investment in Fields. They have to know what they have in him by the end of the year. Unless he misses a lot of time, I think that they can reasonably conclude that whatever he is at the end of the year, that’s who he is and their decisions can flow from that.

But that’s if he plays. If he doesn’t, then that’s less data that they have to go on and it makes their decision making process murkier.

  1. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Bears may struggle this Sunday and Bagent will naturally struggle with them. Again from Biggs:

“Where have other teams found success going against the Chargers this year? I am surprised that they only have as many wins — two — as the Bears. — @ajlight315

“The Chargers’ 2-4 start is certainly a little surprising, and coach Brandon Staley said they needed to ‘reset’ after Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs. They have been particularly terrible defending the pass. They are 32nd in the league in both passing yards allowed per game (310) and yards allowed per pass attempt (8.09). Opponents have a 105.6 passer rating, which ranks 31st, ahead of only the Broncos (114.2).

“While the Chargers have a formidable pass rush led by former Bear Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa, they have allowed big plays galore. That makes it interesting to see what kind of game plan offensive coordinator Luke Getsy hatches this week with undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent making his second career start. How much will Getsy ask Bagent to do knowing the Chargers have ongoing issues on defense?

The Chargers are better than their 2-4 record indicates. Three of their four losses were to the Dolphins, Cowboys and Chiefs. Those are good teams and the Vikings, who are the other team to beat them, are also better than their record.

The Chargers are a bad match up for the Bears. They present blurry looks on defense that can confuse even veteran quarterbacks.

The spread the last I checked was Chargers -9. I think that gives you a clue as to how this is going to go.

The Bears will be better off playing Fields and keeping Bagent on the bench. The time spent there will be good for Bagent’s development and the Bears have plenty of time in the future to spend with him. There’s no hurry.

Quick Game Comments: Raiders at Bears 10/22/23


  • D’Onta Foreman dropped a third and long dump off in the first half and it occurs to me that maybe that’s why the Bears don’t like playing him as much as you might think they would. He might not be a good pass receiver and he doesn’t play special teams.
  • Bagent is far and away most comfortable throwing to Tyler Scott. I would guess they spent a lot of time on the field together in camp. Whenever Bagent got in trouble it looked like he looked Scott’s way.
  • Bears really ran the ball well. Foreman is a very good downhill runner and he seemed fired up. The Bears ran for 4.6 yards per carry.
  • On a related note the offensive line blocking was superb for the most part. With the exception of Maxx Crosby the Raiders were having a hard time getting off of blocks.
  • Bagent was definitely helped out by the good running game. It helped the Bears keep the Raiders pass rush under control. Bagent is also reasonably mobile which made him hard to track down.
  • Also credit to Bagent for acting out those run fakes. It bothers me that so many quarterbacks don’t get anywhere near the running backs on those. He helps everyone out when he acts those out well.
  • Most importantly Bagent looked like he belonged out there. He was cool under pressure. Didn’t make many mistakes. He looked competent.
  • On the down side, Bagent is not the most accurate quarterback and he often made passes harder to catch than they should have been. He also always rolls to his right. Teams are gong to start game planning around that.
  • Color man Mark Sanchez also did a good job of pointing out that Bagent doesn’t like to step up into the pocket. He will abandon it, often to the right, instead. Sanchez called him “jumpy” in the pocket. I think he’s right.
  • The Bears were 8 for 13 on third down. That’s Excellent.


  • Credit to the Bears defensive line. They did a good job at the line of scrimmage. There wasn’t much room to run for the Raiders. I think it say s something that the Raiders came out in the second half determined to run the ball. They recognized that the Bears were shutting them down and it was stifling their offense.
  • Brian Hoyer’s timing with his receivers was a bit off today. He was fairly consistently behind his receivers.
  • Tyreek Stevenson might have a bad reputation with the referees. He’s getting some tough calls. The pass interference in the second quarter wasn’t much and its not the first time this year I thought that the referees were being a bit tough on him.
  • The Raiders evidently really liked the match up of Devante Adam on Tyreek Stevenson. They fed him the ball four times in 6 plays constantly on their first possession. They completed three of them. They weren’t quite as aggressive with it later but the Bears were rotating coverage his way pretty often.
  • The Raiders were 2 for 9 on third down. That’s pretty good for an improving Bears defense.


  • Credit to the coaching staff. The Bears looked ready to play today.
  • The Bears elected to receive but what they did with it was puzzling to me. Why take the ball is your first pass is going to be a wide receiver screen and your second play is going to be a run. Aggressively taking the ball first and then calling conservative plays doesn’t jibe with me.
  • Similarly, I had a bit of a problem with the way that the Bears handled the clock at the end of the first half. They let the clock wind down rather than taking their time outs. I see where they were coming from. They were starting deep in their own half, and they didn’t want to hand the ball back to the Raiders with decent field position and any time left on the clock. That’s fine, but the play calling didn’t match the plan. It was reasonably aggressive and, even more, it paid off. The Bears made their way to almost to mid-field before the drive stalled. They may have done better with it and they had a bit more time. It was a very weird confluence of time management, and play calling that I didn’t understand.
  • Too many Bears penalties in this game. There were 9 for 110 yards, some of them in critical situations. They would have hurt them against a better team.
  • Tremaine Edmunds had his 2nd interception in 2 weeks. Notably Yannick Ngakoue got into the path of the pass with his hands up and helped disrupt the receiver’s concentration. Two interceptions by Jaylon Johnson in the fourth quarter, one for a touchdown, were also very helpful in putting the game away.
  • Devante Adams drop in the end zone about 3 minutes into the 4th quarter was a huge play in this game. A touchdown there puts the Raiders two scores down. To my great surprise the Raiders took a field goal rather than going for the touchdown on fourth down. Absent a bunch of major mistakes by the Bears, that drive was the game.

One Voice at a Time for the Bears. And Other Points of View.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune has 10 thoughts after the Bears loss to the Vikings on Sunday.

“On the first snap Sunday, the Vikings showed six men at the line of scrimmage. The Bears were in an empty formation with quarterback Justin Fields in the shotgun. Outside linebacker D.J. Wonnum came off the offense’s left edge unblocked. Left tackle Larry Borom was turned inside, engaged with a blocker. That left Wonnum with a free run at Fields and a blindside sack for a 7-yard loss.

“That set the tone for the Vikings immediately.”

I wrote basically the same thing on my note pad when it happened.

Head coach Matt Eberflus later acknowledged that Fields was responsible for Wonnum. He was supposed to get rid of the ball with the free blitzer coming. He didn’t.

Like so many things about the game Sunday, this was very predictable. Its happened over and over again to Fields against teams that blitz far less than the Vikings do. Field had to anticipate the possibility that free guy might come off the edge and be prepared for it. He didn’t.

I knew before the game even started that this was going to happen and I’m not a football genius by any stretch. Either the coaches didn’t prepare Fields for it or he just can’t execute the plan. I’m betting the latter but either way this is a bad, bad sign.

  • Biggs takes pains to make sure that all of the burden of the poor offensive play doesn’t fall on Fields. Here he quotes tight end Cole Kmet.

“Kmet said: ‘I’ve got to take a look at the film, honestly. A lot of things we saw on tape, I think we saw on the field. It just comes down to our execution. It has to be better.’

“Like what?

“‘Everything,’ Kmet said. ‘Timing. Guys knowing who to go to. Depth on routes. Everything. We can be better up front. I was really involved today in the protection schemes. Guys coming off the edge, have to pick up there, chipping guys, whatever it is. We’ve just got to be better all around.

“‘So that’s communication on the line, making sure everyone knows who we’re going to. Knowing who our hots are. Guys getting open. All that stuff. It was a conglomerate of things but definitely have to take a look at the film.'”

When you ask someone what went wrong and the answer is “Everything” you know what the issue is. Its not talent. Its not individual players breaking down here and there where you can put it on individuals in key situations.

Its preparation and coaching.

The Bears knew what was coming just as five other teams knew what was coming when the Vikings played the games before the Bears. They were 1-4 and thought to have among the worst defenses in the league. The Bears just didn’t execute on a massive scale and failed where other teams have consistently succeeded. You don’t have to know the nitty gritty specifics to know that’s a coaching problem.

“So much of the 2023 season has been about evaluating Fields. It was supposed to be easier than in 2022 when he had the worst roster in football around him. Injuries up front and in the backfield, a receiver who got traded and an in-season changeup to how the offense looks have robbed him of that stability.

“He also hasn’t been consistent, with two great games and four that have been well below average, and now is dealing with an injury. If he can return after missing only one game, he’ll be on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers and their fifth-highest sack rate, and then on the road in the Superdome against the New Orleans Saints, a defense fifth in the league in interception rate.

I completely agree with this.

Fields injury is really problematic for the Bears. With all of the talk about losing and having high draft picks again in the 2024 draft, its important to not lose sight of the fact that this is season is mostly about evaluating Fields in his third and most critical year. The Bears have to know what they have in Fields before this season is over.

So far I can’t say that I’m optimistic about the chances that Fields is going to be the franchise quarterback that the Bears have been searching for. But its sill too early to tell definitely. The Bears need to see more. They need to see what they can get out of Fields with his limited field vision and whether that will eventually be enough with all of his other talents.

Fields is who he is now. But no one is perfect and even mediocre quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. And he has his strengths.

Could Fields get to the point where he recognizes pre-snap looks better? Could the Bears design an offense that limits Fields need to make every read and improve his decision making on those he makes? Will he be good enough to make the Bears competitive?

We just don’t know the answer to that and we won’t know unless both Fields and the team have a chance to further adjust to the current situation. Here’s hoping Fields makes a quick recovery.

One Final Thought

Biggs was also answering your questions this week:

“Where is Kevin Warren? Wasn’t he hired for this exact reason? Once again, the Bears’ total incompetence from the top down is an embarrassment to the fan base. — @heapbig

“What would you propose Warren do right now? It would be great if he could rush the quarterback or fill one of the holes created by injuries on the offensive line. But he was a basketball player in college.

“I’m pretty certain Warren’s No. 1 order of business is the new stadium initiative, which seems sort of stalled months after the team finalized its purchase of the land in Arlington Heights. Warren is overseeing all aspects of the organization. He has been at the road games. He’s prominent at Soldier Field on game days. I’d bet good money he’s as disappointed as you are with the 1-5 record.

“Maybe you would like to hear Warren publicly say he’s not happy with the team’s struggles through the first six games. Perhaps that would make you feel like he’s on your side and devoted to cleaning things up. Would that really make a difference, though? That might send a message to potential future hires that the Bears have an overbearing president/CEO who doesn’t have a background in football personnel. Would that help the Bears the next time they are seeking to fill a key position?”

I couldn’t agree more with this. With both Biggs and the Bears.

I haven’t said it recently because the Bears have done exactly what I would have over the past 10 years or more but there was a time when I was constantly harping on the fact that Bears general managers, mostly Jerry Angelo, had a bad habit of popping up with comments mid-season.

If I’m running the Bears I want the players hearing one voice and one voice only and that’s the head coach. This is his time and he’s in charge. They don’t need to be confused by messages coming from the front office.

The time for upper management to speak is when the season is over and high level decisions need to be made in the month of January. Once that is done its up to the GM until the season starts again.

One organization. One voice at a time. One message. No confusion.