First and Final Thoughts: It's here, Week 1 is really here

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Not unlike Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky, it's Year 2 of First and Final Thoughts. Insider JJ Stankevitz and producer Cam Ellis talk about what's on their minds between games. 

Final Thoughts on the Preseason 

J.J. Stankevitz: Thank the football gods the preseason is over. I understand the importance for the Bears' front office of evaluating guys on the roster bubble, but after two games of watching nearly exclusively backups, I was ready for the season to start. That was mid-August. 

As for what we learned from the preseason...well, I learned that the regular season couldn't come soon enough. The Bears are confident in Mitch Trubisky, but I'm waiting to see if that confidence translates into success in regular season games. There's a thought about the Bears' defense regressing without Vic Fangio that I'm not buying, but let's see how they perform in regular season games. We've followed the kicking battle for months, and now get to find out if Eddy Pineiro is The Guy or not. All these narratives that've evolved over the last few months will finally be put to the test in a situation that actually matters Thursday night. 

Cam Ellis: I was on board with the no-starters preseason, and even – dare I admit – enjoying the depth chart battles happening through the first few weeks in Bourbonnais. Clifton Duck! Things got boring, though, and fast. If the NFL wanted to make the preseason two weeks long, that'd be fine. If the NFL wanted to get rid of the preseason that'd also be fine. 

More specifically, the Bears' preseason went ... fine? It's an odd experience watching a good team talk about how they expect to be improved while the general conversation around them says the opposite. Trubisky could have had a more encouraging camp, but the 'dialing it back' stuff in the end of July was overblown. He's not going to be worse; there are just still too many 'Year 1' throws. Even with dampened expectations at quarterback, there's a lot to like about the offense. There's even more to like about the defense. The schedule is brutal, but the Bears will certainly not be boring. 

First Thoughts on Week 1

Stankevitz: The chess match we'll see Thursday night will be fascinating. The Bears' offense caught Green Bay's defense off guard in the first half of last year's game, and Khalil Mack had a comically-massive impact over the first 30 minutes. Then the script flipped and the Packers came back to win. 

Now: The Bears are in the position the Packers were last year, with a head coach whose offense won't be a complete surprise and a new defensive coordinator. And the Packers are in the same boat the Bears were in 2018: A new offensive-minded coach and an experienced defensive coordinator returning to handle that side of the ball. We don't know what Matt LaFleur's offense will look like with Aaron Rodgers running it beyond a guess that it'll somewhat resemble the schemes of Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. Make no mistake: This'll be a test for Chuck Pagano's defense, and an important one to pass early in the season. 

One more over-arching thought: Expectations for the Bears this regular season should be high. Specifically: This is a team that should be aiming for a first-round bye. The last team to win or reach a Super Bowl without having a first-round bye was the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. If the Bears are serious about hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February, earning that first-round bye would be the first step. And that first step starts Thursday. 

Ellis: It's going to be quite a scene in Chicago on Thursday. The NFL is taking over Grant Park, but do not worry - that Meek Mill and Meghan Trainor collab might finally be happening. The Today Show is broadcasting from near Soldier Field! And the Bears are okay with that (?)! 

My Official First Thought is that something wacky is going to happen on the first drive. I don't know what, but consider the following: Nagy clearly has a flare for the dramatic and a deep appreciation for Bears history, they'll be wearing those throwback uniforms to honor 100 years of NFL history, and they paid ten million dollars for Cordarrelle Patterson. Something's going to happen. 

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