The best part about making predictions about pro sports teams...

>> Monday when you realize that you were horribly, horribly wrong.

(I mean, aside from me saying that Vince Young would be a flop)

When Bears fans started calling for Griese a month ago, I thought you all were cuh-RAZY. As I responded to one of Vinnie's posts on the matter: "The idea of having a quarterback who will "not lose the game" has worked in the past. Tampa Bay won with Brad Johnson, and Baltimore won with Trent Dilfer. With Griese at the helm, the Bears could probably get to the NFC championship and maybe even the Super Bowl. But if they want to win it all, they're going to need Good Rex. Of course, that takes the risk of Bad Rex showing up, but name one Super Bowl champion that didn't get a little lucky along the way."

I still hold to that somewhat, because I do think the Bears would have a tough time winning the Super Bowl with Brian Griese (mostly because it honestly doesn't look like anyone can stop the Chargers). But with Griese, they will at least stand a damn good chance of getting to the Super Bowl, and once you're there, anything can happen.
My change in heart was mostly prompted by the ass-whooping put on the Cowboys last night, courtesy of that kid from Purdue that's not Kyle Orton. The team that I, and just about everyone else, thought was hands down the best in the NFC took it Brokeback style. They just weren't the same team that we've been watching for the past six weeks. On the same day, Eli Manning suddenly decided that he should try throwing balls to his own players and the supposively rejuvinated Seahawks lost to the Cardinals...THE CARDINALS! (By the way, kudos to Vinnie for calling that one.)

But really, that should come as no surprise. The NFL has been a model of inconsistency this year. The Packers whooped on Miami, who whooped on New England, who really whooped on Green Bay. That's the kind of year it's been. BUT there are exceptions. LT and LJ, especially the former, have put up huge numbers week in, week out. You always know what you're getting from the Colt's run defense.

The most consistent unit in the NFL, however, has been the Bear's defense. So I say play to your strength and forget about offense. Grossman doesn't even know what he's doing wrong, so he's obviously not going to be able to correct the problem. Put Griese in there and his number one priority will be protecting the ball. It's a ballsy move for sure, and I think Lovie is too scared to do it. But he needs to ride his defense, because consistency is so rare this year that it just might be enough to win.

So for all you Packers fans out there, or just you sadistic sonsofbitches that enjoy watching people suffer, have fun watching Grossman tank again tonight. I sure as hell will. And for the Bears fans, maybe he'll play bad enough that Lovie won't be able to lie to himself any longer. That's your best hope.


Patrick 11:51 AM  

Well, I think the Bears will win tonight by at least 20 because the Rams run defense S-U-C-K-S...that should open up some holes in the secondary for Grossman to take advantage of. Look for jones and benson to combine for at least 150 on the ground. I honestly think this game will stop all the nonsense about Brian Griese. The past few weeks have not really been about Bad Rex, rather it has been Bad Play Calling. There is no reason to have Grossman throw as much as he has been when you have two solid backs who can chew up TOP and keep moving the ball. Look for Ron Turner to get back to basic play calling and I think the Bears will reclaim their position as the NFC's best, although the Saints looked pretty darn good last night (my only concern is if your defense has Mike McKenzie on it, Look Out).

BTW, why were the Cowboys getting so much love last week when they barely beat a reeling Giants team? Didn't the Bears just kick the shit out of them a month ago? I just don't get it, oh well

Mike 1:45 PM  
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Mike 1:50 PM  

"the Rams run defense S-U-C-K-S...that should open up some holes in the secondary for Grossman to take advantage of."

You're right about the Rams rush defense being awful, but wouldn't holes in the secondary be at least partially the domain of the pass defense? A statistical category where the Rams are #7 in the league?

It's also worth noting that regardless of the defense, the Bears offense can at best be described as "lackluster" and defense can't change that. (Bears are #21 in total offense, #18 pass, #16 rush).

Here's hoping for some good play out of Rex tonight though.

Patrick 4:58 PM  

First of all, if you've watched any football (is has been obvious that you don't or if you do, have no understanding about the game at all), then you would realize that the reason the Rams secondary ranks that high is because opposing teams don't throw very much against them. It is the same reason why the Packers defense last year ranked in the top ten when in fact that was definitely not the case. Overall, their defense is not good and this is once again a case of Mike looking up statistical information to back an argument that is completely false and untrue. Mike, try watching the games instead of relying of "skewed" stats to pad an argument.

And in the case of the Bears offense, that is true that their offense has been sputtering lately. But that is more of an indication of Ron Turner (which should be easily identifiable to one who has watched the games) rather than Rex or anyone else actually on the field.

Nathan 8:44 PM  

We're halfway through the 2nd quarter and the only Bears "offense" has come from (surprise, surprise) the special teams. Also, Jim Belushi is in the booth, so I'm going grocery shopping for a while.

Mike 9:08 PM  

Once again this is Pat jumping to conclusions. This time, it's based on a statistic that I cited in the form of a question, indicating my desire for more information, and tacitly admitting my relative lack of knowledge of the NFL dynamics this season compared to the rest of the blog (I haven't watched much outside the Bears, largely because I really can't admit to giving a damn about how often the Rams' opponents throw against them.)

So in the absence of sitting my ass down in front of my TV for 14 hours every Sunday, the next best thing I have to rely are statistics. When the statistics don't seem to match the assertion, it seems only right to question if all is as it seems.

Patrick 9:45 PM  

So, since you admit to not knowing anything about football this year, WHY are you posting on football articles??? That really doesn't make any damn sense to me. If you want to say something, fine. But don't pretend like you know what you're talking about when you don't. It's fine when people bring up stats and such, and I even encourage it, but there needs to be some sense behind the numbers.

Vinnie 9:48 PM  

Well, your question came off awfully contrarian as usual. And Pat's point (I believe) is that stats are very, very hollow without understanding the tangible things they represent and the whole range of factors that could contribute to them. Unless you're confident in your ability to both first, you should generally not even bother with the stats. So yeah, you'll make a good politician someday.

And once again, Pat seems to prove much more knowledgeable than we often give him credit for. The change in playcalling (more hot routes and short drops is what I can tell) has opened up the deeper routes and given Rex much more open targets downfield. Then again, I guess playing indoors on turf helps too.

Vinnie 9:49 PM  

You get up to take a leak and Pat beats ya to the comment. Didn't mean to speak for you Pat.

Patrick 9:58 PM  

Nah, don't worry about it. The Bears are vindicating everything I said earlier

Vinnie 10:05 PM  

And now Rex just made a perfect throw for a TD.

But yeah, I've been contending for the last four weeks that Rex's problem was the repetition. Every pass play it was seven-step full drop back. I really think Turner fell in love with Rex's cannon arm and made his pass plays stale.

People kept criticizing Rex for not checking down. But really, checking down sucks and isn't something that should be a regular option. Check downs are for when the play fails or your receivers suck. They usually don't go for anything. In my oopinion, the problem wasn't Rex refusing to check down, it was that checking down became his best option on too many plays. And to me, that says shitty play calling.

Also, I'm still gonna argue that besides Moose, the receivers are inexperinced and don't know how to go after a deep ball. Only a small part of the problem, I know, but it still counts.

Matt 11:34 PM  

1. I'm sorry I missed this debate earlier, wherein I could have schooled you all on the art of the NFL offense.

2. Vinnie - take it easy with the "checkdowns are stupid" business, checkdowns are the reason that Tom Brady and Brett Favre have Super Bowl rings and Jake Plummer doesn't. When you've got a QB in Rex's situation (i.e., playing like an asshole), checkdowns are the way you get them back into the offense. I don't want to sound too much like Joe Theismann, but a lot of what you see on offense isn't based on a case by case, individual play by individual play methodology, it's absolutely essential for a QB to get into a rhythm (via short and checkdown passes) before the deep stuff is even an option. That stuff has to be there for a young QB like Rex who needs to have sense enough to keep the chains moving and play to the strengths of his team. Unless you're Peyton Manning, then you do whatever the fuck you want.

3. Easy on Sever, he's making a valid attempt at posing a contradiction to your original (and very absolutist, by the way) point. Second, you're both right. The Rams are statistically better than they are on the field, but that's just because they have Archuleta and three other asshats (Jeremitrius Butler, maybe?) trying to stop the other team from passing. However, Mike's also right, the Bears offense stinks, and it probably won't matter who they're playing, they're not gonna hang 450 yards and 38 points on too many teams, unless that team is Green Bay.

4. You know what really grinds my gears? When John Q. NFLFan (whose parents Sue and Irv NFLFan weren't very creative when naming their kids, I'll admit) jump to the immediate conclusion that the "playcalling" is the reason that team X's offense isn't playing well. Really? The playcalling? Okay, guy, what would you have called in that hypothetical situation upon seeing the defense relying heavily on a Cover 3 zone with rolled coverage over the top of your Z receiver, with both defensive tackles rushing on a three technique and thus leaving the middle of the field open for a slant because their middle backer was half a heartbeat late on getting into his hook zone? Oh, you'd have gone away from the slant? Oh, that's cool. Hindsight's 20/20, I guess. Bottom line: neither you, I nor anyone that doesn't do this shit for a living really knows what the hell we're talking about, so if you wanna bitch about the offense, bitch about the gameplan, (i.e., the fact that the Bears aren't running the ball on every fucking play) and not the "playcalling."

All right, I've lost all semblance of a point on this one.

Jim Belushi sucks.

Bottom line: Bitch all you want, but at this point, Rex Grossman is a feast or famine quarterback. He's not (I repeat, NOT) going to be able to string together enough consistency to get you to the Super Bowl should the defense fail to live up to their part, but neither is Brian Greise. In my opinion, you stick with Grossman, don't get too greedy on the 9 and 8 routes (i.e., go routes and 15 yd posts that he's not accurate enough to throw more than 2 or 3 times a game without it really being a gamble), run the God damn ball 40 times a game and hope to somehow eke out 20 points.

Or, you start Orton. Either way.

Patrick 8:26 AM  
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Patrick 8:30 AM  
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Patrick 8:50 AM  

Yeah Matt, I guess I have to agree with you on several of your points, but I have to keep saying that it is as much Rexy's fault as Ronny in the booth. When your running backs ramble all over the Patriot defense and then you switch and start slinging it all over the place, that is a problem. It was evident in the first half last night when the Bears threw 16 times vs. running it 13 times. They were chewing the Rams up on the ground, yet I really can't explain them throwing it that many times, unless several were screen plays, which they weren't until the second half. When you call a "more" conservative type game, the Bears will beat anyone in the NFL, save for the Chargers.

Secondly, I just don't get how you can defend a defense that just gave up a 114 passer rating to Grossman. They really looked like shit out there (so did the Bears pass coverage, but they had Vasher and Johnson out - but still no excuse).

Matt 8:51 AM  

Yeah, the Rams pass defense stinks, I'm not denying that. Come to think of it, I just realized that they don't even have Archuleta anymore. So, for the life of me I don't know who the hell they have in their secondary. Not surprising. But, when your front seven sucks just as bad (especially after Leonard Little [one of the worst people in the history of the NFL, by the way] got hurt), you're fucked any way you slice it.

One theory I have about the Bears, however. The reason I think the offense had gotten stale the past couple of weeks is that they really don't have a change of pace back to run with. Granted, Jones and Benson are very good runners, but they both offer about the same thing as downhill runners who are more "four yards and a cloud of dust" than anything else. I wonder if the Bears might benefit from getting a little creative on offense.

My suggestion? Develop a package of plays for the best playmaker on the team, and get the ball in Devin Hester's hands 4-5 times a game on offense. This, I think, presents a little bit of a wrinkle in the Bears' otherwise conventional game plan, whether it's on a toss, a screen or something else that will quickly put the ball in his hands and get him a chance to get up field. It's gimmicky as hell, to be sure, but when you've got a lousy offense in need of an occasional spark, I think it would be a great counter to the hard nosed style of Benson and Jones.

Just sayin' is all.

Mike 9:47 AM  

Thank you Matt. Pat, for the future please note difference between nothing and relatively less.

ie) Zuch knows relatively MUCH more about college basketball than I do, but I doubt Zuch would say I know nothing about college basketball.

Vinnie 12:30 PM  

For once, I'm sticking to my guns.

Would you not say that Rex going into a full drop on nearly every pass play is a function of the plays being called? To me, when your QB is young and trigger-happy, that's setting him up for trouble.

And by checkdowns, I'm not talking about ten-yard outs or crossing routes. I'm talking, like, fullback standing in the middle of the field checkdowns. His good targets haven't been running these more conservative routes. If I'm Rex, I'm not throwing to a stationary Doug Gilmore or Aaron McKie either.

Also, how about I bring this up again? Ok, I will. The pass protection has been lousy.

Listen--I may not be an offensive coordinator, but my daddy Irv NFLFan has taught me a lot over the years, and I think I have some eye for playcalling styles.

Matt 1:00 PM  

That's my point, that's a gameplan thing, not a specific playcalling thing. It's semantics, but it's my (only and agreeably semi-valid) point. You're dead on though, 7 step drops aren't what Rex needs. He's a three and five guy, to be sure.

As for the checkdown stuff, the WRs and big play guys aren't the ones who run the checkdowns, they aren't the #1 options on any play, they're what you throw when the other 2 WRs have fallen down and peed themselves.

My take on the whole thing is that the Bears don't (and haven't fully for a while) have a great grasp on their offensive identity (and once again I sound like Theismann). But, they're not running plays to the strength of Rex or Mush, and that's (one of) the reason(s) they aren't playing well.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that Rex should be checking down like he is to stay in rhythm and move the sticks, but I'll agree with you in saying that the base route combinations and drop packages aren't being tailored to his skills.

Matt 1:01 PM  

And to address your other point, you're right, the pass protection will improve when you stop using 7 step drops and run plays and route combos that aren't just "I'll drop back a while and you run deep, then I'll get sacked or throw it up, whatever."

Vinnie 5:55 PM  

Sweet. I was just being difficult. It's good to know I wasn't wholly full of shit.

Patrick 8:48 PM  
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Patrick 12:26 PM  

Nah, sorry I'm sticking to my original point

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