NEW ORLEANS, La. — The New Orleans Saints were dying to give Sunday’s game away to the Bears. Derek Carr and the Saints’ pedestrian offense handed Tyson Bagent and the Bears multiple opportunities to leave the Caesars Superdome with a much-needed win.
But, as has become custom this season, the 2023 Bears couldn’t get out of their own way.
Bagent threw three interceptions and fumbled once as the Bears lost the turnover battle five to zero and committed eight penalties in a 24-17 loss.
“I thought our team played extremely, which is why it’s so embarrassing,” Bagent said after the loss. “One score game, but lose the turnover battle by that amount, it’s embarrassing. It’s part of the game and I’m just looking forward to building and learning from this experience.”
After five turnovers and eight penalties on Sunday, the Bears now either lead the league or are tied for the league lead in both categories.
That’s where we start this report card — with the coaching staff flunking for being unable to fix fundamental issues that cost them a game they should have won Sunday.
I usually start the report card with the passing offense and quarterback, but that can wait.
When Matt Eberflus was hired as head coach, he made a big show of his team playing fundamentally sound, smart football regardless of the talent level on the roster.
That was, for the most part, true in 2022.
That has not been the case in 2023.
After Sunday’s loss, the Bears now have committed 18 turnovers and 60 penalties in nine games. Both are abominable numbers, highlighting a lack of execution that has plagued this team all season.
The “T” and “S” from Eberflus’ famed “H.I.T.S.” principle have been missing all season, and the Bears got no closer to finding them during an inexcusable sloppy performance against a beatable Saints team.
Bagent played well for most of Sunday’s loss in New Orleans.
At halftime, Bagent was 10-for-13 for 149 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and a rating of 121.5. He showed good pocket presence, created plays out of nothing, and got the ball into the hands of the Bears’ skill players and let them do the rest.
But things quickly disintegrated in the fourth quarter as Bagent threw two interceptions and fumbled during the decisive final stanza.
Bagent continues to show glimpses of promise, but right now, he’s a low-ceiling developmental backup quarterback. There’s nothing wrong with that, but Sunday’s fourth-quarter wilt job should make an already obvious decision to go back to Justin Fields when he’s healthy even easier.
Bears Insider Nov 5
Bears Insider Nov 5
Tyson Bagent Nov 5
As for other aspects of the passing game, the offensive line did a decent job in pass protection. They only gave up two sacks but also had three holding penalties on pass plays that put Bagent behind the sticks.
Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet both had outstanding games. Mooney caught five passes for 82 yards and showed excellent run-after-the-catch ability. He was the best he has looked all season. Kmet, meanwhile, caught six passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns.
DJ Moore caught three passes for 44 yards but also had a critical fumble in the second half.
Bagent GRADE: D
Team GRADE: D+
D’Onta Foreman cD’Ontaes to impress when given a constant workload in the Bears’ backfieldBears’unday, Foreman rushed 20 times for 83 yards and was once again a shoestring away from breaking open a few big scoring runs.
Even when Khalil Herbert comes back, it will be difficult for the Bears to chew into Foreman’s touches.
Bagent showed off his wheels on Sunday as well, rushing eight times for 70 yards, including several impressive scrambles to extend drives.
The Bears’ run game wasn’t as physical and overpowering as it is when running at optimal condition, but it was a good day for the ground attack, with Teven Jenkins and Darnell Wright once again performing well as road graders on the right side.
The Bears’ defense dBears’ost everything in their power to deliver a win Sunday in New Orleans.
The Saints only threw for 214 yards at 6.1 yards per attempt. New Orleans’ biggest play in the passing game came on a 17-yard pass to running back Alvin Kamara and the game-deciding touchdown pass from Taysom Hill to Juwan Johnson, which came on a busted coverage.
But the Bears didn’t pressure Carr (zero sacks, two hurries) or force any turnovers.
Given how liberally the offense was coughing it up, the Bears needed their defense to come up with one or two momentum-shifting plays.
That didn’t happen.
The Bears’ run defense continues to be the surprise of the season. They entered Sunday ranked No. 3 in the NFL in run defense and extended defensive tackle Andrew Billings as a result.
That unit once again played tremendous on Sunday, holding the Saints to 87 rushing yards on 27 carries (3.2 yards per carry).
No complaints here.