It's hard to be a fan and to maintain perspective... You obsessively stay on top of every move, transaction, trade, draft pick, coaching scheme, and even things division rivals do, so when your team finally takes the field, you have incredibly high hopes for their performance. Hell, for some, football is a significant part of their life, and even sometimes part of their identity.
Preseason is a time when teams are going to test out players, try new ideas, and do things that normally they would never do in a regular season game. It's about testing someone's aptitude, or experimenting with a third stringer in a position he's never played... When you see an offensive play run, or a defensive call that doesn't work, often times the coaches know it's going to fail, but instead, they are looking at something completely different than the fans.
For instance, last night versus the Denver Broncos, the Chicago Bears inserted rookie lineman Cody Whitehair into the starting Center position. And Whitehair did poorly. But the coaching staff undoubtedly knew he would. For one, he was a rookie that only has two weeks of real NFL practice under his belt (Training Camp), and two, he spent most of those practices learning to play Guard.
So when they Bears put him in at Center, there was a reason that was not trying to march down the field and score a touchdown. With the Bears offensive line in flux, and the season-ending injury to Hroniss Grasu, they need to have a plan in place not only for each starting position, but for the backups and third-stringers as well.
The point is, even though as fans we want to approach preseason games as real life regular season games, that's just not reality.
Here are two winners and two losers from last night's contest.
- The Bears starting wide receivers. Both Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White started the game on Thursday night, and both got a little action in. Jeffery grabbed a pass from Jay Cutler on the first play of the game, showing that perhaps he isn't as banged up as many had worried about. And second-year player Kevin White, who lost his entire rookie season to injury, was also on the field and showed aggression after being gang-tackled on a short pass from Cutler a few plays later.
Ultimately, the Bears offense didn't produce anything, but having both Jeffery and White on the field in the starting lineup was a win for the Bears.
- Willie Young. A year ago, Young was asking for a trade because of his new role in Vic Fangio's 3-4 base defense. As the season progresses, Young found a fit, and his motor and aggression earned him an offseason contract extension. On Thursday night versus the Broncos, Young's aggression was seen again, as he was consistently disruptive when he was on the field.
In a revamped defensive front-7, Young should have another very productive season in 2016.
Based on the narrative above, we shouldn't put to much into the failures of the team, but for the sake of the article's integrity, we will follow through.
- The Bears offensive line. Last season the o-line was an issue, and this season it will no doubt remain a liability, despite some new faces in the crowd. General manager Ryan Pace is very active in trying to plug holes during the offseason, but at the end of the day, there aren't a lot of Pro Bowl linemen on the market these days.
Last night versus the Broncos defense (a defense that was minus DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller), the Bears offensive line was pretty bad. Cutler got hit, blitzes and stunts weren't picked up, and guys were getting out-muscled in the trenches.
- Bears fans at Soldier Field. Once again, fans entered the stadium excited to see their favorite team perform, and once again, they left at the end of the night disappointed. Many fans in attendance tweeted they wished they had just stayed home.
For a team in the upper-echelon of NFL ticket prices, Soldier Field has been a sad place over the last couple of seasons due to the poor product that was being produced. That will need to change in 2016.
Who were your winners and losers from last night?