When baseball concludes its All-Star week, that means that the NFL season is much closer. The training camp will open in less than two weeks and you can feel the excitement in the air.
For Chicago sports fans, both the Cubs and the White Sox will take the backseat to the Chicago Bears after July 27, when training camp begins. After July 27, the way Bears fans see their team will be different for the first time in 9 years.
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The Bears will come away with 12 season wins and a winning Division of the 2018 season and will have greater aspirations. For the first time since the start of the 2011 season, the team will be considered a strong Super Bowl contender. Fans will observe and analyze every little aspect of the Bears during the season from the first training camp until the end of their final game of 2019 and, hopefully, until 2020.
At the training camp, fans will watch every shot taken by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to determine if he has taken the next step and can take this team to the promised land. There will be a small group of fans who will call their bench with any interception of practice or any goal lost in any of the preseason games. Likewise, any player of third or fourth sequence that makes big plays in the preseason games from back to back, those same fans will demand that said player be promoted to the title.
When it comes to the regular season, watching the Bears games will become a must-see event instead of a novelty or a fill for Sunday afternoon. The primetime games will close the city of Chicago with NBC, ESPN or Fox on more than half of the televisions in Chicago. The Bears will be the center of attention in Chicago on Sundays this fall, as most Chicagoans will wear the colors of the Bears and commercial businesses will be empty during the three hours of play.
When a big play made by the offense or the defense caused shock and excitement last season, the fans will now expect those plays as something given this season. If the Bears' defense does not impose more than two turnovers or three sacks, the fans will be disappointed and question the new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. Fans will also question coach Matt Nagy and the offensive game plan if the team does not win more than a touchdown against a lower opponent. Trubisky will get the most heat if he has a multi-sale game or fails to throw multiple touchdowns.
The team is expected to win all games no matter how good the opponent is. Last year against the Rams, Patriots, Vikings and Packers, the fans expected a victory but expected a defeat. This year against the Chiefs, Chargers, Saints, Rams and Cowboys, fans will expect those games to be won without exception.
One thing is that when the Bears are unexpectedly good in the middle of the season, it's something completely different when expectations are high in the season. There is a feverish tone for the Bears 2019 season and the fans are managing that intensity. With training camp only a few weeks away, fans should enjoy the time they have before the Bear Mania begins again.