The Chicago Bears GM should be praying that Brian Griese is good. Because if Griese isn’t, the correct move to finally bench Rex Grossman is a move that came too late.
Wonder if Jerry Angelo is on his knees. The Chicago Bears GM should be praying that Brian Griese is good. Because if Griese isn’t, the correct move to finally bench Rex Grossman is a move that came too late. NFL.com, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, all citing anonymous sources, reported on their Web sites Tuesday what everyone had assumed the day before when coach Lovie Smith refused to utter his infamous refrain: “Rex is our quarterback.” Grossman deserved his benching as much for being delusional, saying he and the Bears’ No. 30-rated offense was “so close” to being good, as for his 45.2 passer rating. But was he any more delusional than Angelo? Angelo came to Chicago from Tampa Bay, where the Bucs built a defense led by Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch that was even more dominant than Brian Urlachers’ Bears. And he saw that defense get undermined every year by Trent Dilfer and Shaun King, supposed “quarterbacks of the future” who instead played a lot like Grossman. Then he saw the Bucs plug in a Griese-like Brad Johnson and win the Super Bowl. So why, for four years, has it been Grossman or bust for the Bears? Skeptics scoff at Griese’s talents, saying he has never won a playoff game. Well, neither did Dick Butkus or Gale Sayers. Griese has some credentials. The last time the 10-year veteran started, he led Tampa Bay to a 5-1 start in 2005. The year before he had a 97.5 passer rating. He led the league with a 102.9 rating in 2000 when he went to the Pro Bowl with Denver. He should have played last year. Maybe in the Arizona game, when Rex had six turnovers. If not then, during the 31-13 loss to winless Miami. If not then, surely in Grossman’s back-to-back debacles against New England and Minnesota. If Grossman had been benched then, maybe the Bears would have won the Super Bowl last year. After all, they trailed the Colts by only five points after three quarters despite only 55 passing yards at the time. And if Griese hadn’t been an improvement, the Bears wouldn’t be guessing if he could help now. Instead, they might have made a move on an unusually large stockpile of available pedigreed quarterbacks. Former Pro Bowlers Jeff Garcia and Daunte Culpepper were free agents. So were former No. 1 draft picks David Carr and Byron Leftwich. Cleveland was looking to trade Derek Anderson, who has passed for 760 yards and seven touchdowns in 2 1/2 games. Angelo should have known Grossman wouldn’t blossom into a Pro Bowler over night. History says Rex wasn’t ever going to improve. I looked last year at every current NFL starting quarterback and found that all of them had found their own level after four pro seasons, even if they had rarely started during that span. Every quarterback had at least one season in his first four with a passer rating within a point of his career average. All but two had seasons higher than their career average. Remember the young Brett Favre who had to be tamed? Well, his 85.3 rating as a first-year starter is the same as his career rating of 85.2. Peyton Manning’s third-year average of 94.7 mirrors his career average of 94.6. Rex wasn’t going to improve with more starts. He would get worse. His best year was his rookie season with a 74.8 rating. He was an MVP candidate after five starts last year with a 100.8 rating. He freefell to 61.4 the rest of the year. His rating in 14 games since that brief, glorious start is 57.9. No Bears quarterback has been that bad for that long since Vince Evans in 1981. Kyle Orton, though, was close in 2005 (59.7). Orton is the Bears’ only other option if Griese doesn’t pan out. Which is why Angelo needs to pray. Rockford Register Star assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or email@example.com.