Backing a fellow Gator

With the No. 32 offense in a 32-team league, the Bears need somebody to make something happen.

Defensive end Alex Brown believes rookie quarterback Rex Grossman and fellow Florida alumnus could be that somebody. Brown doesn't agree with the idea that throwing the untested first-round pick into battle would be like tossing Gator bait to opposing defenses.

"Why would that signify us giving up?" said Brown, who was Grossman's teammate at Florida in 2000 and 2001. "Are you saying that he can't get the job done?"

That appears to be what Bears coach Dick Jauron is saying by sticking with an ineffective Chris Chandler at quarterback despite the team's 3-7 record and lack of playoff prospects. Chandler has thrown seven interceptions and three touchdown passes, and in his five starts since replacing Kordell Stewart, the Bears are 2-3, with the wins coming against the 2-8 Chargers and the 3-7 Lions, against whom they also lost a game. Meanwhile Grossman remains buried at No. 3 on the depth chart, dressed up with no place to play.

Chandler's 62.9 passer rating is better than only Ravens rookie Kyle Boller's 62.1, the Lions' Joey Harrington's 61.8 and Stewart's 56.0, among quarterbacks with 120 or more passing attempts. Chandler gave the Bears solid quarterback play in back-to-back victories in his second and third starts, but his performance has dropped off the past two weeks.

At halftime in Sunday's loss to the Rams, Chandler had completed 7 of 15 passes for 42 yards with two interceptions and a passer rating of 13.9. On the Bears' first three possessions of the second half, they managed one first down, but even then Jauron said didn't consider going to Stewart.

"Not really," Jauron said. "Not on my part in that game. As I've said before, Chris is our 1. I have a lot of confidence in his ability. He hasn't been as accurate in the last two weeks as we expect him to be, but he's certainly given us opportunities to win games."

The status quo of the QBs won't change this week. Jauron said he won't consider Grossman yet.

"No, not at this point we will not," the Bears' coach said. "As we move down the line and more things occur, and hopefully they won't, then we'll look at it."

Whether it happens sooner or later, Brown is confident in Grossman after witnessing him complete 64.3 percent of his passes for 5,762 yards, 55 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions as a freshman and sophomore at Florida. His pass-efficiency rating was third in the country as a freshman and first as a sophomore.

"He can get the job done," Brown said. If they put him in, he can do it. He's a very capable quarterback in my opinion, but he can't prove that to everyone until he gets out there. I think he will. I think his time will come, and when it does I think he'll shine."

But when will that happen?

"No idea," Brown said. "It's not my decision. I don't make those decisions."

Brown says it's not necessary to look past the Bears' locker room to dispel the notion that rookies can't contribute in the NFL. Five Bears rookies have already started at least one game this season, and 11 have played.

"I heard a lot of people say (Charles) Tillman needed time, but the guy's good," Brown said of the Bears' starting cornerback. "(Grossman) can play. When he gets in a game, if he gets in a game, then I think he'll do well, whenever that time is.

"Any competitor feels like if he was in there he could make a difference. I think he feels like that, and he'll do everything he can to make it happen."

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