TELANDER: Are preseason games really worth all these serious injuries?
Here’s what the Bears have found out in their preseason games so far:
Here’s what they’ll find out in their fourth and -— thank God — last preseason game Thursday night against the Browns at Soldier Field:
Heresy! you scream.
Preseason games are where coaches find out who can hit, who can block, who’s tough, who the great runners are, who the quarterback will be, who will rise and slay the regular-season dragons!
Easy there, Sarge.
Chill out, Fantasy Fred.
Preseason games do, indeed, give coaches more film to review and break down so they can point out to players how they screwed up, pancaked a man, etc.
But coaches already have hours of tape on everybody who’s part of the team. They have college film. They have practice film from many angles. They have height, weight, body fat, personality files, food preferences, interviews, government dossiers, criminal reports. Rumor is, they have baby shoes and first blankies.
They do not need more data to decide who will make the team or start.
Think about it. When a player does something great in a preseason game, there’s no way a coach doesn’t already know the player was capable of such.
Sure, tiny dancer Tarik Cohen dazzled us with his jitterbugging and scorching blasts around end. But even I, standing on the sideline at Halas Hall weeks ago, saw the rookie running back do that continually in practice.
Mitch Trubisky, the second pick in the draft, can play the position nicely, but he’s young.
Veteran Mike Glennon knows how to lead a team, say the right things and direct scoring drives.
He’ll be the starter until Trubisky takes his job.
Is there anything there you didn’t know before?
Look, if general manager Ryan Pace needed to watch Trubisky against ‘‘real NFL competition’’ to know if the kid is any good, then Pace made a draft choice the same way you get blindfolded and spun around, then take a whack at a piñata to see what falls out.
But forget the meaninglessness of what are simply full-hitting practice scrimmages before paying crowds. (You’ll recall that win-loss records in the preseason are at best silly, at worst deceptive. The ’85 Bears went 1-3 in the preseason, 18-1 afterward.)
Which brings me to the main point. The only thing that is certain about preseason games is that players will get hurt. Playing tackle football guarantees as much.
So look at who’s wounded already for the Bears: starting wide receiver Cam Meredith and long snapper Patrick Scales.
Scales is gone for the year, waived after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament Sunday against the Titans.
Meredith, who also tore his ACL, was the best wideout the Bears had, a young guy on the rise. Did anybody need to see if he could still catch the ball in a game no one will remember and destroy his knee and be lost for the season in the process?
Extra contact doesn’t toughen up pros. It breaks them down.
The Super Bowl champion Patriots already have lost star wideout Julian Edelman for the season, and the carnage goes from team to team almost without exception.
And none of it counts for anything.
The players don’t even get paid for preseason games. Just per diem, baby. Enjoy!
But the owners?
Oh, do they rake it in.
Preseason revenue is the only money stream they do not have to share with the players. And season-ticket holders are forced to buy preseason seats as part of the package.
Sure, it used to be that some players got fat and lazy during the spring and early summer and maybe needed extensive training camps to be beaten into shape. Yep, back before Nautilus was invented and minicamps didn’t crowd the calendar.
We, the fans, don’t care much about this — until we wonder why the Bears have no passing attack along about October.
We’ll watch Thursday night’s dumb game and enjoy it. Pure habit.
Remember the Titans game, the one that got Meredith and Scales a few days ago? The Bears won 19-7!
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.