Geez, it's already football season? Thursday night saw the annual NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony and preseason football game. The Bears and the Ravens played the game, which finally gives us Bears fans a brief (and limited) glimpse of what new coach Matt Nagy's team might look like.

Brian Urlacher was inducted into the Hall of Fame prior to Bears playing the game.

Perhaps my favorite player ever, Bears great Brian Urlacher, was inducted into the Hall of Fame prior to the game, alongside players like Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, and Packer great Jerry Kramer (how was Jerry Kramer not already in the Hall?). It goes without saying that I miss watching Urlacher play. I also miss playing as him in Madden video games.

Devin Hester return TD
Brian Urlacher was a great player and
consummate teammate who always
celebrated his teammates' success.

I always admired the physicality, speed, and intelligence that Urlacher played with. But it wasn't just his on-field performance that I admired. I also appreciated the way that he always seemed to be watching his team from the sidelines whenever he was off the field. I remember every time Devin Hester returned a kick, or every time a back broke a big run, or the QB made a big throw, Urlacher was running down the sideline, chasing his teammates and hooting and hollering in celebration of their success. He was a consummate team player, and seemed to be an all-around quality person. Players like him, Devin Hester, Charles Tillman, and some non-Bears like Peyton Manning, are the reason that I started watching football more regularly.

Hopefully, recent linebacker draftees Roquan Smith and Leonard Floyd can live up to the legacy of Urlacher, Butkus, and Singletary.

Limited look at Matt Nagy's offense

Sadly, we didn't get to see first round (8th overall) draft pick Roquan Smith at all, nor did we see second year QB Mitch Trubisky. Smith is holding out over contractual concerns relating to the NFL's new helmet collision rules and other issues. I'm not going to talk much about the team's defensive performance, as it shouldn't be indicative of how they'll play in the regular season. I'll pay more attention to the defense in the next couple games. First of all, coverages and blitz schemes in the first game of preseason are usually very simple and rudimentary. Also, I'm assuming (and hoping) that Roquan Smith's holdout will be resolved by the time of the regular season.

Backup Chase Daniel [LEFT] was outplayed by his backup Tyler Bray [RIGHT].

Even though we didn't see Trubisky, both of the Bears' backup QBs weren't too bad -- something that we don't often see from the Bears. Admittedly, it's the first week of preseason, starters aren't playing on defense either, and coverages aren't going to be too sophisticated. Chase Daniel had an early interception, but it was a fluke ball that bounded off a lineman's helmet, so not Daniel's fault. He threw another interception later, but that looked more like a miscommunication between QB and receiver rather than a bad throw or bad read. He petered out quite a bit after the first drive, but a lot of that had to do with receiver Bennie Fowler III dropping passes. Fowler better pick up his play if he wants a spot on the 53-man roster.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 12:00 AM

Devin Hester becomes the best ever!

in Sports | Chicago Bears by MegaBearsFan

He may not be a Chicago Bear anymore, but Atlanta Falcons kick returner Devin Hester is still one of my favorite NFL players, and he made headlines this past week. Hester returned a punt for a touchdown in Atlanta's Thursday night blowout win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in doing so, he surpassed Deion Sanders and became the sole record-holder for most combined return touchdowns in NFL history.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons - Devin Hester 20th return TD
Devin Hester returned his record-breaking 20th return for a touchdown Thursday against the Buccaneers.

Hester has been one of my favorite players since he burst onto the scene in Chicago in 2006. I was in college and starting to watch NFL football on a more regular basis (as opposed to just playing Madden), and Hester was one of the reasons that I started putting aside the time to actually watch Bears games. Any time Hester touched the ball, there was a chance for an exciting big play, and I wanted to be there for every one of them! I hoped for defensive stops (Brian Urlacher was another of my favorite players to watch) so that I could watch teams kick the ball to Hester.

Geez, he was fast! And it seemed that every week, he was returning another kick (or two) for a touchdown, single-handedly putting the struggling Bears back into games and making them playoff contenders.

I still vividly remember a Monday night game in Arizona the week after my birthday, in which Chicago came back from a 20-0 half-time deficit to win the game - without scoring a single offensive touchdown! In the second half, Brian Urlacher stripped the ball from Arizona's running back, and Charles Tillman returned it for a touchdown to put the Bears within one score of pulling off the comeback. The game was eventually decided by a fourth-quarter punt that Hester (then a rookie) returned 83 yards for a game-winning touchdown.

Cardinals head coach Dennis Green followed up the game with one of the best post game, press conference rants in football history. I even have a T-shirt of this speech!...

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Chicago Bears alt logo

I have to say that I am not surprised that the Chicago Bears decided to fire Lovie Smith after the second late-season collapse by the team that lead the division the first half of the year. I also agree with the decision, mostly. During the entire tenure of Lovie Smith, the Bears' offense has been incompetant. Lovie is a great defensive mind, but I'm just not sold on his ability as a head coach. And judging by the fact that no other teams hired him, I guess I'm not the only one who had doubts.

The Bears went through several offensive coordinators during Smith's time, including the revolutionary mind of Mike Martz, but the team's offense remained abysmal throughout. They changed quarterbacks, changed offensive linemen, changed running backs, and rotated through a number of receivers. They even changed stadiums. The only constant was Smith.

The firing of Lovie Smith just further expands my concerns with the Bears' defense. I've already expressed fear that the defense is getting old and that veterans like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Charles Tillman just might not have much left in their tanks. The window is definitely closing for these players, and they can't afford to wait around for several "rebuilding" years in order to become championship contenders again. I want to see Brian Urlacher win a SuperBowl with the Chicago Bears, but if the team's new coaching staff isn't able to fix Chicago's offensive woes, while maintaining strength on defense, then it doesn't look like Urlacher will get that ring. At least, not with the Bears.

Marc Trestman hired as Chicago Bears' head coach
New Chicago Bears head coach, Marc Trestman.
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Chicago Bears alt logo

At the start of the 2012 season, I may have had my hopes for the Bears a little high. I argued that the Bears might be the most balanced team in the league this year, potentially featuring an elite offense, defense, and special teams!

For the first half of the season, in which the Bears got off to a 7-1 start, it looked like I might have been right. But red flags started going up out of the gate. The offensive line just wasn't protecting Cutler very well, and Mike Tice's offense too often looked like the anemic offenses under coordinator Mike Martz. Although not ruled out for sure, it didn't look like Johnny Knox would be playing this year, and Devin Hester just doesn't have the same spark he once had. Early in the season, it seemed as if the Bears might have to rely once again on their defense. That defense shocked the league by being more effective than the offense, with both cornerbacks (Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman) earning Pro-Bowl honors for forcing turnovers and scoring touchdowns! Things were looking good at 7-1, but there was a bad feeling in my gut that this all looked too familiar.

Starting the second half of the season, that feeling became justified. Once again, the injury bug started biting the Bears. Alshon Jeffrey and Earl Bennett were both the victims of multi-week injuries, leaving Brandon Marshall as the team's only true threat in the passing game and allowing opposing defenses to send everything they had after Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Cutler and Forte also suffered temporary injuries, and backups Jason Campbell and Micheal Bush were ineffective against the 49ers.

Chicago Bears 26 - Detroit Lions 24 - Brian Urlacher on sideline
I'm getting too used to seeing Urlacher in street clothes.

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Chicago Bears - Matt Forte
Matt Forte (and fans) should be smiling after he signed a 4-year deal.

Bears players left and right are stating in interviews that they think this year's Bears team is going to be great. Recently, receiver Earl Bennett said in an interview that he thinks the Bears are the best team in the NFC North. Other players have expressed similar thoughts over the summer. Pro Bowl linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher have both stated in interviews this year that the 2012 Bears team is the best team they've been on, and that includes the Bears' 2006 SuperBowl run!

So are these sentiments even remotely accurate? Or are the players just a bit overconfident?

Well, in my humble opinion (as a Bears' fan), these players have every right to be excited about their team this year!

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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