The same "moxie" and "poise" that Bears coaches and players lauded backup quarterback Tyson Bagent for in the preseason were put to the test Sunday afternoon as he appeared in his first NFL game.
After Justin Fields exited with a hand injury in the third quarter, Bagent – who rose from an undrafted rookie out of D-II Shepherd University to No. 2 on the Bears' depth chart during training camp – took over under center.
While Bagent recognized playing in the preseason versus a regular season game felt different, specifically noting the amount of pressure shown by the opposing defense, at the end of the day, "football is football" for him. He still felt "prepared and excited" to take control of the offense Sunday.
"Playing football is my job, so I enjoy playing football," Bagent said. "I was excited to get out there. Obviously, you get butterflies because you're playing in front of so many people, and you know, the stakes are high in the NFL. 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."
Bagent finished the game 10-of-14 for 83 yards and a QB sneak touchdown, which he added is "always a dream for every young kid."
While Bagent was once again praised for his calmness and preparedness in the locker room, the 23-year-old left the 19-13 loss "wanting a couple of those plays [back]."
One of those plays came with two minutes left in the game as the Bears stormed into Vikings territory down six points. Bagent saw receiver DJ Moore covered one-on-one heading for the end zone but said he "underthrew it there a little bit," which resulted in an interception.
Bagent "obviously would have liked a different outcome," but said he still walked off Soldier Field feeling "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," Bagent said. "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."
Coach Matt Eberflus told reporters at the podium that "we really like where [Bagent] is" and expressed confidence in the Bagent's ability to perform on the big stage.
"His demeanor was great," Eberflus said. "It's always great. He's cool, calm, collected. You could see that out there. He was that way the entire time. I thought he had good command when he was out there in terms of getting the plays and getting the plays out. No real snafus there with that in terms of operation."
Bagent's teammates echoed Eberflus' sentiments about the rookie in the locker room, as several players on both offense and defense pointed out his composure, readiness and self-assurance.
"He's a baller, as you could see," Moore said. "He showed he belongs. He made impressive throws and was doing well at the line. It was cool to see."
"I've always thought he was a confident guy," cornerback Jaylon Johnson added. "A talented, confident guy that goes out there and he lets it rip. Didn't expect anything different – come out there, be confident, step up and continue to do what he does."
Eberflus said after the game that the X-rays on Fields' hand came back negative, but with no timetable for his return yet, the offensive unit voiced its comfort level with Bagent as the backup.
"He's got self-confidence. I think that's evident," tight end Cole Kmet said. "Being around him since camp, I think he's got a lot of self-confidence. He's got conviction in what he does and what he says. If he's got to take over for a little bit, we're going to rally around him."
Edmunds, Edwards team up for takeaway
Linebackers T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds, who both signed with the Bears March 15 – the first day of free agency – have been talking about generating takeaways together "just about every day" since their arrivals.
On Sunday, the duo accomplished that goal for the first time when Edwards blitzed, got his hands on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and knocked the ball out before Edmunds made a diving catch to recover the fumble.
"We've been manifesting this," Edwards said. "We've been talking about it for such a long time. We want to find ways to just impact the game and know we have the ability. Honestly, everyone on our defense has that ability so it's just taking advantage of those opportunities when we get them. Obviously, it was a great play by him just catching that because I know how tough that is – I dropped one last week. We'll see more of it, for sure."
Edwards was impressed with how Edmunds laid out for the ball but wasn't surprised the 6-foot-5 linebacker secured the takeaway because he's "so physically gifted."
While Edwards said the takeaway "was good to see," the Chicago native is adamant on making more of those impact plays for the Bears defense.
As Edwards and Edmunds continue to push and lean on each other, they also continue to have confidence in their ability to keep elevating the unit.
"It's been one of those to where we're both competitive," Edwards said. "We both challenge each other to go make plays and go do those things. We'll continue to do that – it's how we all grow. It's a competitive room. It's a competitive defense, some guys that are gonna be itching to get back out there and find ways to get this done."
Foreman, Evans keep run game steady
Together, Foreman and Evans – who previously played together for the Titans in 2020 and 2021 – carried the ball 24 times for 97 yards. Foreman knew Evans would "go out there and give it his all and do everything he can to help us."
"I've known Darrynton for awhile," Foreman said. "I met him back in Tennessee so our chemistry – we've been around each other. So it wasn't nothing really hard or difficult to play off of each other. We were just talking and communicating, seeing what's out there and seeing how we could go effectively help the team."
While Foreman's action has been limited so far this season, the veteran said his "mindset and who I am as a person" allowed him to stay prepared for an opportunity.
"The belief I have in myself, the belief I have in God," Foreman said. "Just Him being with me this whole time and putting me in positions like this to go be successful. So just understanding that it's a long season, a long process and at any given moment, something can happen so just gotta be ready."
Evans had a previous stint with the Bears last season, playing in six games as a reserve and totaling 64 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Moving between Indianapolis, Buffalo and Miami this offseason, Evans felt some comfortability in the Bears offense, but understood the unit would still be much different than last season.
"I felt good," Evans said. "Coming back, everyone would assume everything's the exact same, but over the offseason, OTAs, training camp, every offense is trying to grow from what they did last year. I've been in three, four different offenses since April alone, so I had to unteach myself a lot over the past few months. So I feel like I did a pretty decent job of coming in, catching back up and getting into the swing of things."
As a unit, the Bears totaled 162 rushing yards on 36 carries Sunday. On the season, the Bears have totaled the sixth-most rushing yards in the NFL with 816 on 170 attempts.