Bears News: Eberflus on Bagent’s performance, talks improvement in defense
Jamie Sabau - USA Today Sports

Bears News: Eberflus on Bagent’s performance, talks improvement in defense

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - Right about now was a great time for the Bears to get their second win of the season. With a rookie backup quarterback in undrafted Tyson Bagent, the Chicago Bears marched all over the Las Vegas Raiders, also with a backup quarterback, to win 30-12.

According to head coach Matt Eberflus, this game was a prime example of playing complementary football with the run game having a lot of success and the defense playing well throughout the whole game.

“We wanted to come into the game and run the ball and we did a really nice job of that, controlling the game that way and also being able to stop the run and I thought that I was good by the offensive and defensive (lines),” Eberflus said. “When you can own the line of scrimmage like that, I think that’s always a big positive.”

In the first three games of the season, Chicago was averaging 101.7 rushing yards per game. In the last four games, two of which were victories, the rushing offense had an average of 171 yards per game which is even more impressive knowing that starting running back Khalil Herbert has not played in the last two weeks; the same goes for rookie backup running back, Roschon Johnson.

Given all of the running back injuries, running backs D’Onta Foreman and Darrynton Evans were splitting the backfield the past two weeks. Foreman was sensational last season stepping in after Christian McCaffrey was traded from the Carolina Panthers. His best game of the season was when he rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns; that is a performance he nearly matched today. He rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns in addition to three receptions for 31 yards and another touchdown.

All of the productivity in the run game certainly helped Bagent as well. While the numbers are nothing to write home about with 162 passing yards and the one passing touchdown to Foreman. However, he did what he had to do and avoided getting sacked. In fact, the one sack in this game is the least amount of sacks given up by the Bears since December of 2022 in their loss to the Green Bay Packers when the Packers were not able to sack starting quarterback Justin Fields.

“There was poise, there was pocket presence,” Eberflus said. “(Bagent) did get some pressers sometimes and he did evade the rush and deliver the ball down the field, which I thought he did a really nice job of distributing the ball to the skill (players) and that was really good to see.”

Fields actually was performing well the past few games until he dislocated his thumb in his throwing hand against the Minnesota Vikings last week. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Fields is expected to miss two to three weeks with this injury. However, the Eberflus has continued to call Fields “week-to-week” and has not shed any light on his starting status for week eight against the Los Angeles Chargers this coming Sunday (7:20 p.m./NBC). Nonetheless, when Fields returns, he will be the starter. Until then, he is supporting Bagent on the sideline.

“With Justin, we’ll see where he is tomorrow. He’s got a visit with the doctors, so we’ll see how it goes. I know his spirits are great,” Eberflus said. “I know he’s done a great job during the course of the week and he did an awesome job today working with Tyson on the sideline and talking to him before the game, going through the first 15 all the way through. In terms of his health and all that, we’ll know more tomorrow.”

Defensively, things have surely taken a turn in the right direction. After allowing an average of 34.25 points per game in the first four weeks, the defense is now allowing only an average of 17 points per game. Eberflus is contributing this, in part, to his aggressive play calling on the defense, but also the return of some players who were previously injured.

“We had some guys injured in the beginning of the year and we had some secondary issues going forward. Now, we got guys back. So, I think it’s continuity,” Eberflus said. “They got me calling it and their continuity there. I think that’s important and we’re aggressive, not only aggressive with the calls but aggressive with the techniques and you want to play that aggressive style.”

The aggressiveness of the defense helped seal the deal in the end of the game with two interceptions from cornerback Jaylon Johnson, the first time in his career with a multiple-interception game. In fact, this will be his first season with multiple interceptions as he only had one prior to this game back in 2021. Further, he returned his first interception in this game for a touchdown, his first career pick-six.

The defense will need to keep up their aggressiveness versus the Chargers in Sunday Night Football, the second primetime game of the season for Chicago. Los Angeles will come into that game with high-powered quarterback Justin Herbert and a strong receiving core headed by veteran Keenan Allen.

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