- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Under normal circumstances, the Chicago Bears' only concern in the preseason should be avoiding serious injuries to any front-line players.
That's because what happens in the preseason rarely, if ever, carries over into the regular season when the games actually matter.
Remember the panic in the summer of 2006?
After the Bears looked bad in preseason losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Falcons, fans were wondering if the 2005 division championship was a fluke. All the Bears did that year was win 13 regular season games and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in 21 years.
Do you recall the disastrous 2010 preseason when the Bears finished their exhibition schedule at 0-4? The defense, in particular former safety and current Bears quality control assistant coach Chris Harris, looked as if they couldn't stop anybody.
But then, of course, the regular season rolled around the Bears went on to win their third, and final, division championship under ex-coach Lovie Smith and advance to the NFC Championship Game. As for Harris, he turned out to have one of his finest seasons in the NFL and got named to the All-Pro team.
On the flip side, the Bears sure appeared to be a well-oiled machine in that 2007 preseason when they posted a 3-1 mark, then proceeded to suffer the inevitable Super Bowl hangover and finish with a sub-.500 regular-season record.
Did you enjoy that glorious 3-1 postseason in Jay Cutler's first season with the Bears in 2009?
Good, hope you did, because the fall turned out to be a rough one as the Bears ended the season 7-9.
But all sarcasm aside, the preseason didn't matter all that much under Smith because he already knew exactly what he wanted and how we wanted it, particularly on defense, before the team even hit the field in the spring for offseason workouts. The offense was kind of a different story, but Smith hardly ever played his starters more than necessary to avoid a catastrophic injury, like the one Smith had to deal with when quarterback Rex Grossman went down in the 2005 preseason.
There might be motivation for the Bears to take the preseason a bit more seriously after the coaching staff underwent almost an entire makeover in the offseason. The offense, led by head coach Marc Trestman, is brand new. The defense, led by defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, is expected to retain some of the basic principles of the old scheme, but will no doubt feature its share of new wrinkles.
Maybe the Bears will successfully implement the offense and defense in the offseason and early portions of training camp, therefore making it unnecessary to showcase much of their new stuff before the regular season. That would allow the Bears to keep the element of surprise because the other teams around the league probably don't know what that the Bears are going to do on either side of the ball, a dramatic departure from the past nine years.
But if everything doesn't go according to plan for the Bears leading up to the preseason games, maybe the team, minus the handful of superstars on the roster the club can absolutely not afford to lose for any stretch of time, plays the preseason with a greater sense of urgency.
I guess that could happen.
And for the fans paying those regular season ticket prices, that's probably the best they can hope for.