The Chicago Bears heard plenty of talk about their possible regression during an offseason brought on by Cody Parkey's double-doink field goal miss.
Their solution for backsliding following a 12-4 season is how much they believe in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's development.
It's up to Trubisky to do more than manage an offense. He needs to lead the Bears' bid to a repeat as NFC North champions to remove pressure from other aspects of the team.
"He's leaps and bounds further than he was last year," Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "Now we know what he likes, and so we're just trying to put it into action."
The Bears have kept Trubisky under wraps in preseason, and his improvement in Year 2 of Nagy's offense wasn't easily discernible while he faced his team's dominant defense in training camp scrimmages.
Trubisky improved from a 77.5 passer rating to 95.4 last season, and threw 24 touchdown passes to 12 interceptions. He'll need to step up more if problems occur from defensive changes or with a running game relying now on unproven rookie David Montgomery and free agent acquisition Mike Davis.
The Bears need to become more of a complete team, and for Trubisky to guarantee this he has to be better at diagnosing defenses in his third NFL season.
"I think that gives you confidence as a player because when you know where to go with the football you can kind of control the defense more with your eyes and rhythm, and anticipate throws as opposed to reacting," Trubisky said.
A year ago at preseason's end, the Bears made the trade to turn around their fortunes by acquiring Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders. It transformed a formidable defense into a dominant one. Now Trubisky and the offense look to take their turn.
"The defense bailed us out last year a lot and we want to do our job more often this year," running back Tarik Cohen said.
If Trubisky really has improved, Bears on both sides of the ball think they can deal with a much tougher schedule and become Super Bowl contenders.
"We're really chasing that goal right now," safety Eddie Jackson said. "We're not just talking about it."