Honest review of Tyson Bagent’s Raiders Game

| October 24th, 2023

In Short: He was very, very good for a UDFA rookie.

The theme of Tyson’s day was avoiding negative plays — sure, he made some big plays for his team (Scott 3rd & 5 early, the 2nd & 11 scramble, etc) and he kept the offense on-schedule, but you’re telling me a rookie QB with one week’s prep was responsible for only one negative play in 33 drop-backs? Get outta here!

Between Bagent & Luke Getsy’s rushing attack (which was surprisingly diverse), Chicago basically never stopped moving the ball forward. They didn’t generate many chunk plays (we’ll get there later), but they didn’t need to — Bagent was comfortable hitting 6 yard flat routes, checking the ball down in-rhythm, sneaking it on 3rd & short, and ‘canning’ (audibling) into rushing plays he liked when he saw fronts that matched up well for the Bears.

None of this is amazing in an NFL QB vacuum, but we’re not talking about a 5-year starter — Bagent’s a rookie! For him to play as consistently as he did without feeling the need to force the ball into unsafe windows was impressive in and of itself. Just take a look at Bryce Young — often, it’s a rookie’s eagerness to make a play that can undo them.

Most importantly, Bagent turned a few potential disaster plays (the checkdown to Blasingame, the play with a defender draped around his ankles, plus a batted ball early & another checkdown along the sidelines) into neutral plays or small positive gains for his team — his release is lightning fast and he commonly throws without his base anyways, so Bagent had no trouble whipping an accurate ball to a teammate when things got dangerous.

Again, across 33 drop-backs, the Raiders didn’t just end up with one sack… they only registered 3 QB hits in a game where Bagent’s RT might as well have been playing with one arm. And even when the Raiders pressured Bagent, he found ways to get the ball out of his hands. That’s a legit skill, and it’s the kind of skill that can keep your team’s chains moving on a day like last Sunday.

The moment wasn’t too big for Tyson. He registered his first passing TD & his first win. For a first game as a spot-starter, that’s about all you can ask for… but some folks are taking Bagent’s excellent day and running a smidge too far with it, so let’s talk through Bagent’s weak areas under the understanding that we’re only doing this for the people that are making Bagent out to be a potential starter.

Bagent’s arm is the perfect QB2 arm, but I’m concerned about the throwing windows he is (and isn’t) able to hit as targets get further downfield — he hit Tyler Scott as he came wide open over the middle on 3rd & 5, but when DJ Moore curled between zone defenders ~12 yards downfield, or when Darnell Mooney flew open on a ~17 yard corner route, or a few other moments throughout the game Bagent opted to check the ball down or run it himself rather than test the Raider DBs’ ability to recover.

And on a day like Sunday, I don’t blame him! He was leading nearly the entire game & an INT would’ve handed a struggling Raiders offense all the momentum Brian Hoyer could’ve asked for. But to be a long-term starter in the NFL, you have to hit ‘fastball’ windows (or throw with crazy anticipation, which Bagent isn’t doing just yet) and hit ‘hole shot’-type throws 15-25 yards downfield when the defense offers them. The NFL is a chunk-play league, and those plays are often how you get your chunks.

When you hear concern about Bagent’s arm, folks aren’t trying to oversell the importance of 60-yard rainbows WAY downfield — they’re talking about 15-yard out routes, 25-yard slot fades, 30-yard seam routes that split Cover 2 defenses, all the throws that travel a long distance in the air and need velocity to ensure they reach their target while the receiver is still open.

Think of the intermediate throws you’ve seen guys like Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, even guys like Derek Carr, Matt Stafford, Daniel Jones, Geno Smith and plenty of others hit — until Bagent hits those consistently, he’s not in their class.

That’s okay! He can still be a very good QB2 without being in their class. Heck, he’s a ROOKIE, so it’s reasonable to think we’ll see more anticipation and throws driven by Bagent as he gets more comfortable with the receivers around him. It shouldn’t shock anyone that rookie QBs get better with more reps.

But how much better will he get? We’ll find out as the season goes on. For now, I couldn’t be more excited about the Bears finding a young QB that:

– Is fun to watch on Sundays
– Knows what he’s good at & plays to his own strengths
– Has the toolkit to consistently escape disaster & keep his offense churning
– Can make plays with his legs when needed
– Offers legitimate upside as a 4-year spot-starter/backup QB

Awesome game from him against Vegas. Excited to see how he & Getsy prep for a Chargers defense that, if they’re smart, should ditch the 2-high shells I’ve seen Brandon Staley lean on & sell out to stop the Bears’ ground attack. Force the Bears to push the ball downfield & take chances with 1v1 matchups through the air.

But what happens next is a conversation for another time — for now, Bagent ought to bask a bit in the rarified air he’s now a part of. Hundreds of UDFA QBs have participated in an NFL Camp at some point, but few of them have made a roster. Fewer still have started a game. Fewer still have won a game. It’s a massive accomplishment for him and, at least for one week, that ought to be the focus. He did his job very well.

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