Just in case you thought a Thursday Night Football win against the Carolina Panthers would re-ignite a Chicago Bears quarterback controversy, Head Coach Matt Eberflus has something for you.
Justin Fields is Chicago’s QB1 when healthy (via 670 The Score’s Mark Grote):
The Justin Fields timeline for a return has been mostly foggy, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Because aside from Bears Head Coach Matt Ebeflus and his vague answer, we’ve had reporting from NFL Network insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero hinting at Fields’ return most likely coming in Week 11 against the Lions. Plus, the Thursday Night Football broadcast featuring Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit were suggestive in their language and had a Nov. 19 return on their calendars. In the end, I’m just glad we’re closer to the end of Fields’ time off the field than we are to the start of it.
What should the Bears do with Tyson Bagent when Justin Fields returns?
Let’s take a look at some numbers:
The numbers suggest to me that Tyson Bagent should return to the bench when Justin Fields returns to the starting lineup. And this isn’t me trying to take anything away from Bagent. I’ve gained so much respect for him while watching him operate in this system. And I hope you feel the same way, dear reader. Making it to the NFL is hard. Doing so after a Division II college career is even harder. Kudos to the Shepherd University product. He has certainly earned this.
Upon his return to QB2 duties, Bagent should get a pat on the back for a job well done. The scouts who unearthed him should get the big piece of chicken at the next function. And his coaches should get dapped up for their efforts in preparing an undrafted free agent rookie from Division II Shepherd University for this moment. It hasn’t always been pretty. But it was never going to be when you had to turn to a signal caller who was QB4 at the start of training camp. Or are we going to conveniently forget that Bagent was behind Fields, P.J. Walker, and Nathan Peterman when the Bears arrived to start at Halas Hall this summer?
I’ll add this … just because I’m in a weird mood to start my day. There is probably an argument to be made for starting Bagent once more as a litmus test of sorts. Don’t give me that look. Just hear me out for a minute.
At 3-7, ESPN’s FPI gives the Bears a 3.1 percent chance at making the playoffs. For me, that is a sign that this team should be using the next seven games for future evaluation purposes. This line of thinking leads me to wonder what it would look like if Tyson Bagent got the extra mini-ye prep time. A part of me legitimately wants to see how the rookie would handle it. Frankly, I’d care more about the process than the results in this scenario. But that is just the small part of my brain trying to think big picture on behalf of a coaching staff that doesn’t necessarily think that way.
The arguments for starting Bagent over Fields (even if it was for a one-week trial period as a guinea pig) end there. Because Fields, the more athletically gifted and talented player, should be playing in Week 11 if he is health. If Fields isn’t, then I’m OK with riding the Bagent train for another week. Although, if Justin Fields isn’t healthy, then I’ll have real questions about the severity of his injury and the Bears’ honesty about the progress they claim he is making.