The Bears put up a respectable fight against the Saints at a hostile Superdome, but they made too many mistakes and came up short. Tyson Bagent had another up-and-down day leading the offense in his third career start. At times he showed great athleticism and command of the offense to make big plays and keep the chains moving. He showed a good knack for audibling at the line to put the team in favorable positions. But Bagent also made some more rookie mistakes that set the Bears back. The Saints managed to fool Bagent with a Cover-2 look for one interception. On another, Bagent underthrew a ball which allowed Paulson Adebo to step in front of the pass more easily. His fumble on the team’s final comeback opportunity sealed the loss.
But Bagent was just one man on the field for the Bears. Here are the team’s top performers, and guys who didn’t have the best day in the 24-17 Week 9 loss.
Any quarterback needs a reliable security blanket. It’s even more important for backup quarterbacks. Over the past two weeks, Kmet has developed into that guy for Bagent. Kmet’s first touchdown catch was an incredible display of concentration and potentially saved an interception. His second touchdown was a much easier catch on a wide open play-action pass. Kmet also did well to give Bagent some nice outlet options when plays broke down. He has 16 catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns over the last two games.
Sanborn was back as the Bears starting middle linebacker with Tremaine Edmunds nursing a knee injury, and he was back to racking up tackles like he did in the second half of last season. He showed good instincts and agility to weave his way between blockers to make spots and good sideline-to-sideline agility when needed in pursuit. His third down tackle towards the end of the third quarter was especially impactful as it forced a Saints punt when they were on the fringe of field goal range.
Getsy did a great job both creating a gameplan to get Tyson Bagent in a groove early, and seemingly adjusting partway through to keep playing to a new strength. The Superdome is not an easy place to play, but Getsy schemed up some open receivers and easy passes for Bagent to hit on the first drive of the game. Then he dialed up play action over and over and over again to get Saints linebackers flowing the wrong way. It worked really well. What might’ve been new was the addition of designed runs for Bagent. Early in the game it was clear that the Saints weren’t treating Bagent as a running threat, and Bagent had success scrambling for big gains. Getsy started to mix in some designed runs for Bagent, and those were equally successful. Great day for the Bears play caller even though the wheels fell off a bit at the end for Bagent.
OFFENSIVE LINE DISCIPLINE
The Bears o-line did a great job to protect Tyson Bagent and create running lanes for D’Onta Foreman. They deserve credit for that. Too many times however, they committed a costly penalty in a big moment. The lack of discipline went across the line, so it wouldn’t be fair to single any one player out as a dud. Lucas Patrick was flagged for several holding calls. Braxton Jones had a holding and a false start on back-to-back plays. Cody Whitehair was offsides on a third-and-one sneak. Teven Jenkins was the only starting lineman who wasn’t flagged. Too sloppy for the unit as a whole.
Montez Sweat made a couple of splash plays in his Bears debut, but it wasn’t enough to give the team a respectable pass rush. The team ended with just one quarterback hit, courtesy Justin Jones, and that simply won’t do. The biggest disappointment was Yannick Ngakoue, who was held to just one tackle. The prevailing thought was Sweat could help Ngakoue get home, since Sweat demands attention from opposing offenses, but that was not the case.
3RD DOWN DEFENSE
Because the Bears still struggled to generate pressure with their front four, Matt Eberflus was forced to blitz more than he’d typically prefer, including on some key third downs. Derek Carr is a veteran who knows exactly where to find open receivers in the spaces vacated by the blitzers, kept cool and hit those receivers often. By the end of the day the Bears defense allowed the Saints to convert 7-14 of their third downs. Coming into the week the Bears ranked 31st in the NFL with a 48.5% third-down conversion rate allowed. That number will go in the wrong direction after Sunday.