The preseason has passed the highway exits marked Irrelevant, Joke and Fraud. In San Diego last night, the Chargers lack of ticket sales led to the game being blacked out in the home market. The Bears starters – specifically on offense – played half-a-dozen snaps and spent the remaining two hours and forty-five minutes staring at clipboards and computer printouts.
Don’t bother analyzing what you saw last night, with two exceptions. (1) Legedu Naanee’s touchdown catch up the right sideline was made between a pair of starters in Zack Bowman and Chris Harris. It is the kind of play the Cover-2 is designed to eliminate and yet it keeps happening to the Chicago Bears. (2) Caleb Hanie looked tough, accurate and mobile. He’s a kid I would really like to see this organization continue to develop to the potential Mel Kiper envisioned for him on draft day.
With those exceptions, this preseason bullshit must stop. Nothing is being established or developed. Coaches don’t want to show anything. Players don’t want to play. Fans don’t want to buy the tickets. And the worst part? The games are mostly non-competitive. If we were going to watch the backups around the league battle and really fight for roster spots, I could muster some enthusiasm for the game itself. But with the money being allocated to top draft picks and free agents, the preseason is a showroom for cars you’re going to keep in the garage. It’s a battle for your ranking on the practice squad.
And how dare the NFL blackout a preseason game in any market. How dare this league continue to force fans to shell out hundreds of dollars for an evening of low-rent football. I hate the preseason but the fans who watch these games are among the most passionate and knowledgeable around. They are the backbone of the league and restricting their viewing of even the meaningless preseason is the type of decision that reeks of the Park Avenue arrogance quickly becoming emblematic of Roger Goodell’s tenure as commissioner.
Successful preseasons are not determined on the field. They are determined by morning after medical reports. If you’re healthy, you win. That’s it. That’s the whole deal. And the Bears are healthy this morning.