The same can be said of the offense. I'm thinking right now of the play where Justin Gage dropped a long ball near the end zone. Overall, he's a fine player but he's inexperienced.
What bothers me tremendously is that the coaches are timid. It seems that they are walking on eggshells. They are so ‘dainty' right now that they could be auditioning for Holiday on Ice. That's no way to run a football team.
I really admire defensive coordinator Greg Blache, however. Several weeks ago, he said to his players: ‘just let it go on the field. Play all out.' Those are the kind of remarks I've been waiting to hear from Halas Hall all season. Greg is on the right track. That's the fun in football. Sure, there are going to be some mistakes, but there will also be some great plays.
What I see so often now is an insult to the great Bears teams of the past. If you talk to any of the former players, they will agree. The Bears have a tradition of being all out, hard edged guys. They never earned the nickname Monsters of the Midway by being tentative. What are the coaches telling these players to make them so cautious?
Now it's time to Beat The Press. I read several things in the Tribune this morning that left me uneasy to say t he least. Most notably, Rick Morrissey seemed to be endorsing John Shoop's desire to hold Grossman out for the rest of the season.
Morrissey says that the Bears don't believe that Rex Grossman is ready, that Bears management feels that putting Grossman in at this point can hurt him physically and emotionally. Rick extols the virtues of patience in dealing with the young QB. He wants to give Grossman time, another off-season, before putting him in.
I've got news for you, Rick. For you, too, John Shoop. That won't work. Why? I see it as a clear lack of confidence in the Bears top draft choice. Are you sending the message to Rex now that you've changed your mind, that he isn't as good as you thought he was but maybe with time he'll improve? That isn't the way to build a young player's self esteem.
Morrissey went on to quote Shoop, who again is hedging his bets. Shoop remarks about Grossman's noticeable improvement on the practice field and in meetings, but is unsure about how Grossman will actually function on the field. My view? Give the kid a chance to play, then you'll find out how he handles a game.
If I were Rex right now, I'd be incredibly frustrated. Shoop admits that when he says that the rookie is ‘anxious to play.' If I wanted to play as much right now as Grossman does and nobody gave me the opportunity to do so, I might start thinking about buying out my contract and heading to another team. I'm not saying this will happen, just that it might happen.
In Morrissey's article, Shoop mentions that few rookie quarterbacks were given the chance to play during their first year. Hello? John, why don't you head south about three hours. You'll see Peyton Manning out there leading the Colts. Or drive a little further and you might encounter Byron Leftwich taking snaps. But that would be against the rules that both Morrissey and Shoop seem to be following: don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.
What are the Bears so worried about? That Grossman will get discouraged or worse still, hurt? I've got news for you. If Grossman is going to get hurt, it could happen next season just as easily as right now. His head won't get any harder with the passage of a few months. Grossman couldn't be more discouraged than he is right now. Give him a chance to show what he can do. Your team could be the better for it.
Let's face facts. The Bears are our of playoff contention. The point now is to salvage what you can of this season by doing a few positive things. I'd start Kordell Stewart against the Vikings, but bring Grossman in shortly thereafter and let the chips fall where they may. When the season is over, I'd relegate Gary Crowton to telling Grossman how to find the laces on the ball, but I'd hire Chris Chandler as Grossman's coach.
Stat Catch: Stewart had one of his worst days as a pro with 17 receptions in 40 attempts. In the first half, the Bears offense got 137 yards, 104 of which came on passing plays. During the next 23 plays, they only had 33 yards gained on offense. There simply was no Bears rushing game. In fact, Chicago had a total of six first downs until the fourth quarter when they got another 7.
The 5 turnovers of course were a factor in the outcome but those things happen from time to time in football. You need other weapons to be able to come back after a turnover, particularly when your team is playing against Brett Favre. Green Bay had 7 drives for a score after the Bears went ahead 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Bears had none.
My view is that Shoop gave them nothing to work with. An example: on a third and two, there was a reverse roll out that didn't get to the marker. Why that play at that particular moment? It only has a 25% chance of a good gain. You want to get to the line of scrimmage and beyond as quickly as possible. The Bears are 33% on third down conversions, 28th in the league, primarily because of schemes like that.
So where do the Bears go from here? It lies with the coaches and Bears management. Take some risks guys. Get creative. By protecting yourselves, you're ruining the team. Put Grossman in now. You may think that you're saving him by not playing him. In fact, he's going to get discouraged and leave. Take advantage of the rest of this season to build player enthusiasm and confidence. If you don't start that right now, you'll be too late.