I got suckered. When Devin Hester went flying down the field with the opening kickoff I got suckered into believing in the Bears on Sunday, plain and simple. The whole year I have been guarded, even after playoff victories, I supported the Bears, cheered them on, but deep within my recesses where Cubbydom rules I didn’t really believe the Bears were going to win the Super Bowl. Until Devin Hester ran that kickoff back for a touchdown. Sure, I immediately said to those present “we have to be careful to not sit back or let down after that now” but I was still believing and the fires were only stoked when the Bears picked off Peyton Manning shortly later.
However, the weakness of our team quickly appeared and he wears Number 8 for the Bears — Rex Grossman. I don’t hate Rex, he seems like a good enough kid. The truth is though, from the very start he wasn’t cut out for this job.
Consider this, only in Chicago could our “franchise quarterback” be someone we traded down for (see his less than shining draft preview as well). That’s right, with Carson Palmer coming out and the Bears a few slots away from picking him there was talk that Cincinnati really didn’t want that pick and were going to give Akili Smith one more shot, having become weary of first round quarterbacks with lofty expectations. Bears GM Jerry Angelo, that we know of, never really pursued it though and Carson Palmer is now a shining jewel among thugs in Cincy.
As I was watching Rex Grossman self-destruct, his slight frame, his nervousness in the pocket, his badly underthrown passes — I had visions of Carson Palmer wearing that Bear uniform instead, a Super Bowl trophy in hand. It could have been, but wasn’t. In fact, the one he would be holding this year would be his second if you recall the astounding performance of Grossman in last year’s playoffs (assuming in my alternate universe that Palmer doesn’t get injured like he did in Cincy, that’s okay, our offensive line is better, indulge my fantasy).
Because, at the end of the day, yes the defense played poorly (after being on the field the whole game) and the offensive line (aside from one Thomas Jones run) wasn’t knocking Indy back off of the ball, but, only one Bear committed four of our six turnovers on Sunday and that was Rex Grossman.
Only one Bear promptly fumbled the ball after a key fumble our defense forced. Only one Bear managed to do something that every quarterback from the time he is in Pop Warner is taught to avoid — mishandle the snap from center. “It was wet out,” you might hear the excuse makers chime in. Oh? And was the ball that Peyton Manning was throwing virtually at will somehow immune from the rain? I didn’t see Peyton Manning cough up the ball, I only saw Rex do that — twice.
When you reflect on this all it will make you feel like a dupe just as I did. We traded down to get Rex at the end of the 1st round, he’s too short, his mechanics are terrible, he doesn’t do anything exceptionally well. There is nothing, I say nothing, that I have seen that leads me to believe that Rex Grossman is an elite quarterback. He doesn’t act like one either.
If you recall the Arizona game at the post-game press conference there was a quarterback there agonizing about how poorly he played, about how all the mistakes were his fault and what happened on the field shouldn’t have happened. That quarterback wasn’t Rex Grossman though — it was Matt Leinart. To top it all off, Leinart clearly didn’t lose that game and the only time he coughed up the ball was on a sack he was blindsided on. That’s a winner, that’s a man who’s won national championships and expects to win. It’s the intensity of greatness even when things aren’t your fault that you take the team’s failure as your own.
No, there was a quarterback at the podium laughing and joking about how bad he was and how great it was they still won though. It was like being in a bowling alley on a recreational night and hearing some guy joke about a gutter ball he threw because he had too much beer. Fast forward to the last regular season game and you have a quarterback who says he was distracted and didn’t prepare because of New Years festivities.
This is our “franchise quarterback”? This is our anointed one who is going to lead us to the Super Bowl again next year? The NFC is so bad I’m sure that could happen but how will it be different next year? Grossman will still be too short, too rough, and thus far has shown will have no clue about what it means to be a winning quarterback. “We were 13 and 3 with Rex as our quarterback” you will hear Lovie Smith say in a delightful twist of nonsense that makes one question why similar thinking didn’t apply to Kyle Orton last year. I think we were 13-3 with Joe as equipment manager that doesn’t translate into greatness. The truth of the matter Lovie, is we were 13-3 despite having Rex Grossman at quarterback.
In today’s NFL tomorrow is guaranteed to no one and I don’t understand what it is Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith are waiting for with Grossman. He’s not a rookie, he’s in his 4th year. He’s been in the league as long as Carson Palmer. Carson Palmer has established himself as one of the elite NFL quarterbacks while Grossman has established nothing. Meanwhile Brian Urlacher gets a year older, Olin Kreutz gets a year older, our devastating defense gets a year older while we all sit back and bide our time waiting for Rex to somehow become a great quarterback. Utterly foolish.
At the end of the day “the Bears are who we thought they were” as Dennis Green would say — foolishly hitching their star to an undersized quarterback who they traded down to acquire. The AFC has to be licking its chops for several more years of domination and Bears fans will be subjected to several more years of frustration unless something changes.