CHICAGO — He was one of the best stories of the Bears’ training camp as the undrafted free agent earned the chance to be the team’s backup quarterback in his first season.
The next chapter of that came Sunday, when Tyson Bagent made his NFL debut, but it wasn’t under the best of circumstances.
In fact, it was the opposite.
Justin Fields’ right hand injury, which was later reported by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer to be a dislocated thumb, knocked him out of the game. That put the undrafted rookie onto the field for the first time during a regular season NFL game, a chance for him to get to know the league while others got to learn about him.
“Obviously you get butterflies because you’re playing in front of so many people, and you know, the stakes are high in the NFL,” said Bagent when asked about entering the game in the third quarter of the Bears’ 19-13 loss to the Broncos Sunday. “But felt really prepared. Felt like the coaches did a good job of always preparing all the quarterbacks week-in and week-out just because it’s always one play away.
“I felt good. Felt prepared and excited.”
In the end, his performance was a mixed bag, with some promise yet to major mistakes that led to another Bears defeat.
Bagent’s third NFL play resulted in a touchdown for the Vikings as he was sacked by Josh Metellus and fumbled. Jordan Hicks returned it 42 yards for the touchdown to put the Bears in the 19-6 hole.
He’d lead the team to two first downs on the next drive before it was stopped on fourth down on the Vikings’ 45-yard-line. The third drive was a 3-and-Out with a net loss of two yards on those plays.
Bagent responded with his best drive of the day on his fourth, leading the team 77 yards down the field for the Bears’ first touchdown of the day. He finished it off with a one-yard quarterback sneak, aided by a push from tight end Cole Kmet.
He’d complete six-straight passes at one point, leading the Bears to the Minnesota 35-yard-line on the next drive before a costly interception that sealed the game. He threw downfield for D.J. Moore, who was heading toward the endzone, but the ball was short and intercepted by Byron Murphy Jr.
In the end, he finished 10-of-14 for 83 yards with the interception, fumble, and rushing touchdown in his first NFL game.
“I think more than anything, just wanting a couple of those plays. Obviously would have liked a
different outcome in the game. I think after you process and think about that, just extremely grateful for the life I’ve been blessed with. Not a lot of people get to do what I do and
win — in victory or defeat. I’m just super thankful for my family. I’m just super thankful for all my past relationships that helped me get to this moment.
“But first, we’d like to get back to the drawing board and get a couple of those plays back and correct it for next week.”
Whether Bagent gets the chance to do that will depend on the health of Fields, who head coach Matt Eberflus said wanted to come back in the game but couldn’t grip the ball. The Bears have a full week ahead as they prepare for another home game against the Raiders at Noon at Soldier Field on Sunday.
It continues a journey for Bagent, a standout quarterback at Division II Shepherd University who won that division’s MVP award in 2021. He was able to beat out P.J. Walker along with Nathan Peterman, who is still on the roster, for the backup job during training camp.
Sunday’s first for Bagent was exciting in some ways for sure, event if the reason he played and the end result weren’t ideal.
“I think more so than anything, the most important thing in the NFL is to win and we didn’t win,” said Bagent. “So I think just kind of like what I said before, wanting to obviously win first and then after that just being excited that I was able to play quarterback in the NFL in a real game.”