Friday, December 08, 2006

In The Line of Fire: Rex Grossman

1.3 As an earned run average it would be fantastic. As a golf handicap, you would fair(way) quite nicely. As many stats in various sports one could make something out it. Even in football. Just not as a passer rating. Especially not as a passer rating. Even as a near rookie. There are many ways to frame the argument against sticking with Grossman this long. Let us take one of the better ones in broad terms so there is no confusion. (Pay close attention football stupid of Chicago.) THE CHICAGO BEARS DON'T SUCK.

This probably doesn't come as a surprise to Bears fans who read this column. Or to fans who can read. Or just know what football, American style is at all. See, the exact issue is this is the NFL, where you're good today, and the Raiders tomorrow. NFL teams, all of the teams, every year, try to capture that lightening in a bottle. That magic mixture of offense, defense, special teams, lucky breaks, and few serious injuries. This year's Bears team has a good amount of most of each. Credit, indeed, must go to Grossman (and the receivers) for the seasons early success while the running game got better looking.

Grossman started out like his hair was on fire. Now he looks like the ball is on fire, and opposing teams are the guys who know where the water buckets are. Not just with interceptions, either. Too many Dave Krieg impersonations have the defense wondering if they should bother to sit down at all. As the turnovers mount the wheels on the Rex Grossman Bandwagon have been falling off more each week. Of course Grossman still has one wheel left to his wheelbarrow of love; or should it be called of Lovie.

Despite speculation that Jerry Angelo is the puppet-master pulling the strings on the quarterback follies, it is worth keeping in mind that he, not Lovie Smith, signed a very reliable, serviceable backup quarterback in Griese for an awful lot of money to hold a clipboard. Though ostensibly an insurance policy for the Grossman injury waiting to happen, it can't be out of Angelo's thoughts too far about the possibility of Griese seeing some action if Grossman continues to stumble. Another 1.3 QB rating would have to qualify. A junior varsity high school kid could accomplish that. So what are Grossman's issues?

Grossman is short. Not Eddie Geidel short, but NFL quarterback short. This could be overcome, but only by a quarterback that could, say, move in the pocket. No, running backward while being chased and throwing off his back foot into the loving arms of the opposing team does not count as moving around in the pocket. Another problem is that Rex can't read. As in, his receiver progressions. If the first receiver isn't open and waving a flag, instead of looking at the next option down the read, Grossman will do the football unusual; throw the ball back across the field weakly at nobody good (sometimes a defender will find the pass inexplicably landing at his ankles). Better to throw the ball out of bounds at some poor, unsuspecting drink-fetchers head. Look at the drop off in the tight-ends production as the season has gone on. This behavior also manifests itself with the singular focus Grossman will sometimes use on plays to wide-outs that end up in the opposing defensive backs hands. When the fans twelve rows up can see the play develop and can run down and still get a finger on the ball, just maybe it was telegraphed like Marconi. Of course, one can't forget, "Rex has that gunslinger attitude, though". The gunslinger attitude is only as good as the results it brings. It only takes a single bullet to bring the fastest trigger down. Every turnover is another shot in the foot.

If the Bears were 4-8, it wouldn't be a big deal. Stick with the "rookie" QB, let him get the experience. The Bears aren't 4-8. They are trying to win homefield throughout the playoffs. Too bad the Bears don't have a guy on the roster that is solid, reliable, if unspectacular. Somebody like Trent Dilfer was with the Ravens when that team rode a ridiculously good defense and a solid running game to a SuperBowl win not too long ago. Yep, it's just too bad...oh wait, that's right; the Bears have BRIAN "WEARING A BALLCAP AND HOLDIN' A CLIPBOARD" GRIESE on the roster. Wonder if he might limit the turnovers to something crazy like less than two a game. Might be worth a shot to find out. Forget all those football stupid arguments about Grossman's psyche or confidence. If his confidence is that easily shaken (which seems unlikely) he shouldn't start for the Rhein Fire. Forget about how everyone likes him because he is humble at the post game press conference. It should not be hard to be humble after special teams and defense have to bail out multiple turnovers again and again.

Grossman could very well be the Bears QB of the future. Remember, though, that the NFL despises dynasties. With all the other parts clicking and humming along, the coaches owe it to the other 52 players to do everything they can to guarantee the whole team, this team, this year, gets as far as it can. Let Grossman be the Bears starting quarterback of the future. Take a chance that Griese can be the new Trent Dilfer. If the results are the same, will anybody really care what style the QB used? Tony Romo sat around for four years before replacing the living statue that is Drew Bledsoe. The Bengals sat Carson Palmer for a year under the immortal Jon Kitna. It cannot possibly be beyond comprehension to replace a virtual rookie with a proven veteran in a SuperBowl run. This isn't an 8-8 team hoping to make the playoffs. Everybody raise your hand if you're confident in Grossman's ability to lead the Bears to a SuperBowl win. Not trying to scrape by into the second round with the defense. Tried that last year, remember? (Coincidentally, this serves as a dismissal to the football stupid notion of Kyle "dead otter face" Orton starting. So don't ask. Large men with pointy sticks will be sent after you. Seriously...they know where you are.)

Look Chicago, it's your team. Despite having lived here since birth, the lure of a big blue star was too much for a four year old lad who didn't even know what football was. If you are a fan of the local team, you should demand more. Maybe a more mature, polished, year older Rex Grossman will lead next year's team to glory. Future Rex isn't available for duty right now. Present day Rex isn't too fun to watch, and isn't too convincing. Tony Romo is giving this column hope unexpected. Still, with an erratic running game, defense, and suspect at best kicking team, Dallas is really just disappointment waiting to happen. It is interesting that Dallas has a coach who wants/needs to win now because his own window of opportunity is probably closing. He chose to bench a likely Hall-of-Famer for the new pride of Eastern Illinois University. Lovie Smith won't bench Mr. Concrete Spikes for the son of a Hall-of-Famer. (If that is factually wrong, please write, in long hand to the address below to our complaint department about our research department.) In either case, the Bears need to sort out this mess. If they do, it will not matter who they play in the playoffs. If they do will not matter who they play in the playoffs. Good Luck. Somewhere there is a Danny White jersey waiting to be laundered.

Since it is officially the season,
Everyone have a Happy ChristmaHannaKwanzadan...and of course, be careful.

P.S. This was originally set for broadcast very early Sunday morning. Technical difficulties which resulted in a near computericide occurred, and a cooling off period was enforced. Apologies are asked for, with any complaints being sent to the above noted departments.


Blogger jamesmnordbergjr said...

Very nice, SR.

5:34 PM, December 11, 2006  
Blogger ChicagoCubbin said...

I couldn't agree more. This Kid looks like a guy in the backseat for the first time, when he is under center. I can only hope That lovie has some secret plan that includes Rex's awesome 1.3 QB RATING.

8:23 PM, December 14, 2006  

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