‘TNF’ takeaways: Bears defense shows up, Bryce Young struggles

Much to the chagrin of a national audience, Week 10 of the NFL season kicked off with a matchup between the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers, arguably the two worst teams in the league. Regardless, the game went off without a hitch, with the Bears earning their third win of the year in a low-scoring affair, 16-13. 

Here are three takeaways from the Bears’ narrow victory: 

Bears defense shows up: The Bears defense came to play on Thursday night, shutting down the Panthers at every turn. Their characteristically tough rushing defense (fourth in the NFL) was its usual self, holding the Panthers to only 2.7 yards a carry (16) for 43 total yards. However, the Bears’ much-maligned passing defense gave Young and company fits, allowing only 170 yards through the air, with 45 coming on one play in the first half. 

Furthermore, entering the week ranked last in the league with only 10 sacks on the year, the Bears pass rushing attack went to work led by new edition DE Montez Sweat. Sweat alone had eight pressures, and the Bears D came away with three sacks. The stellar outing came against a porous Panthers offense, but it’s something to build on for the Bears.

Bryce Young’s struggles continue: Against the Bears’ 28th-ranked pass defense, Young had a miserable night, completing 21 of 38 passes for 185 yards (4.8 YPA) and a passer rating of 68.4. Young often looked unsure in the pocket and certainly wasn’t on the same page as his receivers, more times than not against Chicago. The No. 1 pick’s troublesome play may result from poor protection and a lack of weaponry. However, 10 weeks into the season, Carolina has to be disappointed in Young’s progression. 

Whether the criticism of Young is fair or not, he led the Panthers to only 12 first downs and 213 yards of total offense on Thursday. Unless something changes soon, the heat on Young will only increase. Perhaps more alarming, Young has regressed mightily since posting a career-best 103.6 passer rating in a 15-13 win over the Houston Texans in Week 8. In the two games since his breakout performance, Young has gone 45-of-77 for 358 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions while taking seven sacks. 

Tyson Bagent does just enough in potentially his final start: It wasn’t sexy or aesthetically pleasing, but Bagent managed the heck out of Thursday’s victory. While Bagent didn’t exactly outduel Young, he did have a slightly better game. The undrafted rookie finished 20-of-33 for 162 yards (4.9) with a 73.0 passer rating in the victory and, most importantly, didn’t turn the football over once. 

Bagent improved to 2-2 as a starter, earning one more victory than Young has under his belt. However, he may soon give way to a quarterback with a much worse record of 6-25 as starter Justin Fields is on track to return from injury sooner rather than later. If this is it for Bagent as a starter in Chicago, he deserves a round of applause for a job adequately done. After all, he’ll leave having helped Chicago earn the best possible outcome on Thursday, a win that keeps the Bears-owned 2024 first-round pick of the Panthers at No. 2 in the draft order. 

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