Quarterback Rex Grossman expected to see purple helmets coming at him from all directions in the form of Minnesota Viking blitzes in his NFL debut, especially with starting Bears offensive linemen Chris Villarrial and Mike Gandy out due to injuries.
Instead, he came away relieved the Vikings treated him largely like any veteran passer by keeping forays from their linebackers and defensive backs to a minimum during the Bears' 13-10 victory at Soldier Field.
"They blitzed occasionally but they played a lot more zone coverage than they'd show on tape," Grossman said. "I don't really know what their philosophy was coming into the game, but I thought our line played well, coaches made good calls and I did enough to win the game."
The Vikings sacked Grossman once for a 12-yard loss and often broke a single pass rusher into the Bears' backfield to hurry him, but they exerted very little extra pressure to help their front four. Blitzing is standard fare for any defense going against a rookie QB, especially in his first start.
"We were going to play him like we do any other quarterback," Vikings defensive end Kenny Mixon said. "Rookie or not. Our game plan was to get pressure on him and keep some guys in his face, which I think we did for the most part."
As a result of the Vikings' strategy, Grossman had to do very little at the line of scrimmage in terms of changing plays.
"I didn't really audible too much," he said. "I got us out of run plays (that were to go) right into blitzes. There were some quick throws, I got it out of my hands into a blitz instead of running right into it."
Grossman threw deep six times and never audibled on those plays.
"I never really checked to going deep, I just picked the guy going deep," he said.
Offensive coordinator John Shoop liked the way Grossman stuck with the game plan without ad-libbing. However he did notice a few mis-adventures which need correcting.
"There were two times in the game," Shoop said. "I think there was only one time on second-and-long where he took a shot (after passing) and he got an earful. He was real sharp."
Grossman admitted to some nerves early in the game and a few of his early passes sailed high before he settled down to finish 13-of-30 for 157 yards and a passer rating of 60.0. He expects something better this Sunday at Soldier Field when he faces a Washington Redskins team coached by his old Florida coach.
After sitting for 13 weeks and doing little, though, his big problem was rust.
"I thought there were a lot of plays I could have made and I didn't;" Grossman said. "A little hesitant maybe, the first time out there. I wasn't as accurate as I should have been. There were plays where I was in my drop and I just threw it just so that I wouldn't get sacked."
Grossman thought he also felt a little uncomfortable, but that will go away in time. He was ready to forget about it quickly after the game considering his team fared better in his rookie debut than the teams of the other three rookie quarterbacks who've started in the NFL this year -- Kyle Boller, Byron Leftwich and Dave Ragone.
"I can definitely play a lot better, but to have a win in my first start right now I'm happy," he said.