Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
In leading the Broncos to AFC West championships the last four years, how did John Fox fare in the preseason during that span?
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
The Broncos were 3-1 in the preseason last year with their only loss coming to the Texans by a score of 18-17. Their most impressive win was a 34-0 rout of the 49ers in San Francisco. Denver went 2-2 in each of the previous three preseasons from 2011-13. In 2012, the Broncos opened the preseason with a 31-3 win over the Bears at Soldier Field. More interesting to me is that Denver got off to slow starts in the regular season in 2011 and 2012 and very fast starts in 2013 and 2014. In 2011, the Broncos opened 1-4 before winning six straight en route to an 8-8 finish. They started 2-3 in 2012 before winning their final 11 games. Denver opened 6-0 in 2013 en route to a 13-3 season and 6-1 in 2014 on the way to a 12-4 finish.
Who do you think will be the Bears' primary punt returner this season?
Marc Mariani remains listed atop the depth chart and has done nothing to lose any ground in the preseason, averaging 18.3 yards on three returns. In last Saturday night's 23-11 win over the Colts, his returns of 29 and 22 yards set up field goals. Mariani is a talented return specialist who was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2010 when he was a rookie with the Titans.
Everyone always says that the third preseason game is a dress rehearsal for the regular season. How have the Bears done in that game the past several years and has it really been an indication of what happens in the regular season?
Over the last five seasons, the only time the third preseason game was really an indication of things to come was last year. Playing in Seattle, the Bears gave up touchdowns on the Seahawks' first four possessions in falling behind 31-0 at halftime en route to an embarrassing 34-6 loss. The last time the Bears made the playoffs—when they won the NFC North in 2010—they lost their third preseason game to the Cardinals 14-9 at Soldier Field. In the years in between, they lost the third preseason contest 14-13 to the Titans in Tennessee in 2011 and defeated the Giants 20-17 at MetLife Stadium in 2012 and the Raiders 34-26 in Oakland in 2013.