Hey, Bears, why not find a way to use both quarterbacks?

By Chicago 6 Min Read

What if this isn’t the start of a quarterback controversy?

What if Justin Fields and Tyson Bagent actually get along? What if coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy figure out roles for each?

What if Fields and Bagent complement each other, fill gaps, give the Bears a whole, excelling, dangerous quarterback position rather than a fractured, back-and-forth, ever-on-the-hunt mess?

It’s possible, you know. It has happened in the past, with men such as Doug Flutie coming off the bench for the Bills and undrafted free agent Shaun Hill with a bunch of teams.

For now and the foreseeable future, Fields is the Bears’ starter. He’s recovering from a dislocated thumb on his throwing hand, but when he’s back, he’s the guy.

Rookie Bagent did a nice job in his first start, beating the Raiders 30-12. The dude is undefeated as a starter, a great thing.

But hold on. The Raiders were bad. Without injured Jimmy Garoppolo, they went with Brian Hoyer at quarterback, and that dude hasn’t started for anybody and won since 2016. To be 0-13 in that time is remarkable in its own way. Here’s another fun fact: Journeyman Hoyer’s last victory was for the Bears.

At any rate, the Raiders were lousy, the Bears’ defense did well and Bagent, cautious and dutiful, reaped the benefit.

‘‘Not a lot of people get to say they started an NFL game,’’ he said cheerily afterward, ‘‘let alone win an NFL game.’’

Yet Fields is the starter. And we know what that means: He needs help.

Fields is someone to whom the quarterback position always seems a little out of focus. His athletic skills are superior, but he never has been able to fully harness them to his craft the way, say, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has.

Jackson, the same size as Fields, with the same sprinter’s speed and point guard’s agility, should be Fields’ role model. He is the only quarterback to rush for more yards in a season than Fields (1,206 to 1,143), but his passing skills and game awareness are far above Fields’.

Jackson is 50-18 as a starter in his six seasons with the Ravens; Fields is 6-25 in his three seasons with the Bears.

And the problem for Fields is that it appears he might have developed as far as he’s going to. We don’t know for sure. Some quarterbacks blossom years into their careers.

But the instant — and proper — decision-making process so needed for stardom does not seem to be hard-wired into Fields’ makeup. Maybe it’s because he always had so much talent around him in college. Nineteen of his teammates during his two years as a starter at Ohio State were drafted by the NFL. So was he, at No. 11 overall in 2021.

Back in college, if he was ever in trouble, he could outrun anybody. But the NFL is different. It’s a craft, not a sprint.

Bagent is an unknown and a wonderful story at the same time. Shepherd University and its 3,274 students — almost two-thirds of whom are female — must be cheering wildly as their most famous athlete puts them on the map.

Bagent’s flaws aren’t immediately obvious, though the ability to throw the ball downfield might be one of them. We’ll see about that soon enough.

‘‘I’ve got a cannon,’’ he insisted after the game.

If so, it was never fired.

But if these two quarterbacks can coexist, it’s possible Bagent is the capable fill-in, a great luxury to have. Backups are a play away from starting, and it’s likely Fields will continue to get injured, as most NFL quarterbacks do.

Of course, contract negotiations will mean one or the other likely will leave the team in the not-so-distant future. Nobody who can start in the NFL wants to sit on the bench.

And the Bears might flat-out give up on Fields and start the endless Chicago Quarterback Hunt again. Bagent likely will want to see whether he’s the new Brock Purdy of the league, and Fields might say he’s going somewhere he’s appreciated.

One thing to consider is that the Ravens changed their entire offensive playbook when Jackson was made the man over immobile Joe Flacco. That sparked Jackson’s success.

The Bears might want to do something similar for their two young men. Be creative. Different plays, different strokes.

It’s better than a quarterback feud, that’s for sure.

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