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New Orleans Saints defense not underestimating Chicago rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent

'He does a pretty good job of getting the ball out, not holding on to the ball too much'

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8 of the 2023 NFL season.
Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8 of the 2023 NFL season.

The New Orleans Saints aren't looking so much at the resume of Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent, because that might produce a false sense of security.

Bagent is an undrafted rookie who played at Division II Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and will be making his third NFL start on Sunday when Chicago (2-6) plays the Saints (4-4) in the Caesars Superdome. And in his those previous two starts (and three total appearances), Bagent, the first Division II undrafted quarterback to start an NFL game since 1950, has completed 56 of 80 passes for 477 yards and a touchdown, with three interceptions and three sacks.

But New Orleans is approaching him more so as the player who broke the Division II record for completions (1,400) and passing yards (17,034), and set the NCAA record with 159 passing touchdowns.

"There's not a lot that we get from on film," linebacker Pete Wernersaid. "We've got to hone in on our execution and our job and assignment, and I think that takes care of it."

"I see a quarterback that seems to have control of the offense," Saints Coach Dennis Allen said of Bagent, who ascended to the starting job due to starter Justin Fields dislocating his right thumb in Week 6. "I think he understands what they're trying to do.

"He does a pretty good job of getting the ball out, not holding on to the ball too much. Gets the ball to his play-makers. I've been impressed with his poise. He's another one of these quarterbacks I think has some of this moxie."

The Saints will endeavor to make the Bears one-dimensional on offense. Chicago is sixth in the league in rushing yards per game (132.8) but in the last game against the Chargers, Bagent's second start, the Chargers limited Chicago to 73 rushing yards in a 30-13 Los Angeles victory.

"We've got two-and-a-half games of tape on (Bagent), and how he operates within the offense," Allen said. "I think when you talk about Chicago, I think it really starts with their ability to run the football.

"They run the football really well, I think their offensive line is big and physical. They do a good job of creating movement, their backs hit it hard. They run tough, they run violent. And so, I think it really starts up front with them and starts with their running game."

Khalil Herbert and D'Onta Foreman have combined for 476 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 96 carries, and will draw heavy attention from Saints defenders.

"They run the ball very, very well," Werner said. "They're one of the top teams in the NFL running the ball, that sets up their whole offense. If they're running the ball efficiently, they have a very, very good offense. So that's obviously one of our biggest jobs, to eliminate that.

"Especially for a younger quarterback, if he doesn't have efficiency running the ball, then it really makes it tough on him. Because he's forced to throw in these longer situations that he's not necessarily comfortable with doing. He likes to get the ball out quick and be efficient with their offense and if they can't run the ball, that makes it a little tougher."

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