Miss a little, miss a lot during offseason mini-camps and OTAs. Matt Forte has missed everything so far. | FILE PHOTO
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:30AM
The Bears are defending NFC North champions. But they’re also the team that lost at home to the second-best team in the division when it counted most.
The Bears played in the NFC title game last season. But even the Seattle Seahawks beat more winning teams in the playoffs than they did.
The Bears improved from 7-9 in 2009 to 11-5 in 2010. But the last time they went as far in the postseason under Lovie Smith, they finished 7-9 the following season.
Lovie’s cup is always half-full. Is yours? Take this test to find out:
Rate these categories with 10 points for an optimistic vote, minus-10 for a pessimistic vote and zero for a neutral vote.
Optimist: A maturing team leader who, with improved footwork and mechanics, better protection and better weapons, will take the next step in his second year with Mike Martz.
Pessimist: Strange, aloof guy who has the physical tools but not the moxie it takes to overcome adversity and lead a team to the top. Ultimately, not a closer.
Optimist: With emerging tackles, athletic guards, a respected leader at center and having worked together since Day 1, this line will rival the Albrecht-Jackson-Neal-Sorey-Lick line of the early Payton era.
Pessimist: With four players in positions they didn’t play last season and not-ready-for-prime-time tackles, this line will miss center Olin Kreutz and rival the Jackson-Holloway-Hyland-Cadile-Mass line of the late Sayers era.
Optimist: Underappreciated six-time Pro Bowl linebacker, still in his prime at 30. He will be a tackling machine and produce more big plays to prove he deserves a new deal.
Pessimist: Aging one-trick pony with a balky knee, inflated ego and no clue about the sanctity of a contract, Briggs will see just how vulnerable he is when he loses a step.
Optimist: He will flourish in an offense tailor-made for his skills — he’ll break Payton’s club record of 607 receiving yards by a RB and could lead all NFL RBs in yards from scrimmage.
Pessimist: Frustrated and feeling the effects of 1,037 touches in his first three seasons, he will try too hard, subconsciously try to avoid getting hurt and be unhappy sharing time with Marion Barber.
Optimist: Still in great shape at 33, he will use his smarts to trump anything he loses physically and take another step toward the Hall of Fame with an even better season than 2010.
Pessimist: Without the benefit of the year off that left him fresh for a rejuvenated season in 2010, the aging Urlacher will struggle will revert to his 2008 form, when he was a fading former Pro Bowler.
MIKE MARTZ’s OFFENSE
Optimist: With the best weapons Martz has had since he was with the Rams, the offense will find that magical rhythm and take a quantum leap to elite status.
Pessimist: Without the advantages Martz had in St. Louis — Hall of Famers at QB, WR and OT; 10-12 games in a dome — this offense needs too many things to go right to be consistently effective.
Optimist: Playmaking safety will a better fit with the Bears than with the Patriots and give the “D” an intimidating presence; he will push Major Wright to a new level.
Pessimist: Gambling safety was cut by the Patriots for a reason; will take too long to learn the defense, will play too much too soon and get burned — and Major Wright will never be the same.
Optimist: Finally comfortable as an NFL receiver, Hester will find his niche as a downfield threat who also turns short plays into big ones — while still being the most dangerous kick returner in the NFL.
Pessimist: Still lacking receiver instincts and uncomfortable with the nuances of the offense, Hester will struggle with the timing the offense demands, the Bears will be reluctant to diminish his role and eventually it will affect his kick returns.
Optimist: With Julius Peppers, Urlacher and Briggs in their prime, Meriweather an upgrade over Danieal Manning and an effective offense keeping them fresh, the D will be much better.
Pessimist: Several factors leave them vulnerable: Too much dependency on takeaways; lack of depth at LB and CB; and their best defenders are 30 or older: Urlacher (33), Peppers (31), Briggs (30), Tillman (30) and Idonije (30).
Optimist: He had only a month to get re-acclimated to Martz’s offense. He’ll get better and give the offense a dimension it has lacked since the days of Marcus Robinson.
Pessimist: Too many red flags — leapfrogging Johnny Knox an unpopular promotion; unproductive preseason; wouldn’t own up to a drop; hasn’t connected with Cutler; intense scrutiny.
90-100 Lay off the Kool-Aid 70-80 You must be new in town 30-60 Realist 20 to -20 Seeing is believing -30 to -40 Sports radio listener -50 to -70 Waiting for Ditka’s return -80 to -100 Packers fan