For the first time in a decade on Sunday, the Chicago Bears will have a head coach making his debut as Marc Trestman officially takes the reins for the first time at Soldier Field.
There is understandably a good deal of excitement surrounding his arrival with the team, which supposedly will usher in a new era of offensive-minded football, with quarterback Jay Cutler as the big beneficiary of the new system. Fans are chomping at the bit to see what Cutler will do with new weapons like Martellus Bennett in the fold, as well as how he will utilize fan-favorites like Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall too.
These big expectations of the offense are part of the course for Bears fans, who always have the highest of hopes for the Monsters of the Midway. When the team started last year's campaign with a 7-1 record, plenty of fans were talking about whether or not the team was going to make the Super Bowl, rather than having a discussion about whether the team could sustain the record given that it was largely obtained due to the unsustainable level of scoring that the defense had been producing.
Then, when the team imploded down the stretch and missed the playoffs yet again, fans clamored loudly for a new coach to be brought in, and not surprisingly, Lovie Smith was relieved of his duties, and many Bears fans danced on his grave as GM Phil Emery went about the task of selecting his first coaching hire, and that brings us back to Sunday's game on the lakefront.
The Bears will take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the contest, and the matchup has been circled on the NFL docket for many observers of the league for a variety of factors. The Bengals are a sexy pick to reach the Super Bowl this season, and the allure of a new offensive-minded coach calling the shots for one of the league's most legendary franchises from a defensive-perspective is tantalizing to those who watch the game for a living.
With all of the expectations that come with the new system, all of the fervent optimism (some may call it blind, but that seems a bit too harsh of a term), and all of the national attention that will be paid to this game, Sunday's tilt has the feel of a playoff game of sorts. The thing that Bears fans HAVE to keep in mind as they drink their beer and eat copious amounts of Polish sausage is that this is only one game out of 16, despite the hyped up nature of the contest, and they must not get too high or too low based on the result.
Yes, it's going to be tempting to draw far-reaching conclusions based on one contest. If the Bears dominate the game from the start and win in a laugher, fans will cheer in the streets and praise Trestman's offensive prowess. If the Bears score seven points and treat fans to a constant stream of three-and-out possessions, it's going to be rough sailing for the next week as fans bombard area radio stations and blog comment sections with angry rants about the team being "overrated."
Both of those emotions are understandable from the context of knowing how seriously Chicago fans take football, but they both need to be kept in check. The Trestman era certainly is one that fans should be interested in, but it isn't going to be defined by the results of one game. As tempting as it will be to render snap judgments on the team based on the first game of the season, fans have to keep things in perspective, and take the long-term view of things.