Mike Tirico makes sense of Tyson Bagent’s early success as a quarterback

Mike Tirico makes sense of Tyson Bagent’s early success as a quarterback originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Chicago is already in love with their undrafted, Division II rookie quarterback, Tyson Bagent.

And they should be. For a season that’s hit every seemingly chaotic possibility, having an underdog quarterback lead the team to a victory is what the fans deserve.

But, how should fans digest his performance?

“It’s not easy to step into the NFL from college, let alone Division II, and do what he did last week … He’s not Patrick Mahomes. We got all that stuff. But it was good,” Mike Tirico told Mark Carman on NBC Sports Chicago’s Football Night in Chicago.

It’s hard to argue with Bagent’s performance on Sunday.

As Tirico said, there were caveats to the game. Luke Getsy and the Bears stripped the offense down to the basics. Bagent didn’t throw downfield and there wasn’t any trickery. But he did everything right.

He threw the ball 29 times, which is a sufficient amount of throws for a rookie being shoved into his first NFL start. But he completed 21 of those passes, didn’t turn the ball over, and threw for a touchdown pass.

Yes, his playmakers did all the work i.e. D’Onta Foreman scored three touchdowns and Jaylon Johnson tacked on a pick-six late in the game. But Bagent made the offense look easy. And that’s a tall order for a quarterback of his merit at this stage.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Tirico will be the first to tell you he should be suddenly starting over Justin Fields.

“I’m not being naive here, we’re not putting him in Canton for one game where he really threw it short and took care of the ball,” Tirico said.

Bagent’s performance is a microcosm of an extremely evident fallacy in the NFL and professional sports as a whole. Just because you’re not the top high school prospect, the top college prospect, or a first-round pick in the draft doesn’t mean you’re not talented enough to play professionally.

And remember, Bagent wasn’t a nobody in college. He was astounding on the Division II level. He broke the NCAA record for career passing touchdowns (159), threw for over 17,000 career yards and won the equivalent of the Heisman Award at the D-2 level.

There’s a uniqueness to Bagent and it’s not uncommon for his archetype to beat out some of the “more talented” players who are drafted at the top.

“If you go back to the 2018, 2019 draft, you’re gonna see approximately 55% of the guys hit,” Tirico said. “They’re good players. They’re starters for five, or six years in the NFL. And about 45% wash out and aren’t very good. It’s an inexact science at every position, especially in the first round.

“It’s really hard to extrapolate the quarterback position because so much is dependent on the wide receivers you have, the offensive coordinator you have. Does the system fit you? Is it one that makes sense?”

Tirico makes an excellent point here. Let’s underline the phrase “inexact science.” He hit the nail on the head. There isn’t a secret formula to scouting and drafting athletes.

For Bagent’s case, it seems Getsy’s preferred pass-heavy, pocket-passer style fits him better than Fields. Fields needs space to work and use his athleticism to move the ball downfield. That’s not the case for Bagent.

Bagent’s dropback is quicker and urgent. His reads from Sunday’s game were precise. And his pocket presence is more steady; he’s willing to spend time in the pocket before ducking out to try and make a play elsewhere.

All you should know is this — Bagent isn’t on the Bears for no reason. He beat out P.J. Walker for the roster spot and he beat out Nathan Peterman to be Fields’ direct backup. Sunday’s win over the Raiders showed everyone why the Bears awarded him that status.

Just because his story isn’t glamorous, that doesn’t mean his odds are any different than the rest of the great quarterbacks in NFL history. But it’s only one game. There’s plenty of road left for the rookie.

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