Going Deep

There were times on deep routes last week when receivers weren't open, but rookie Rex Grossman still gave them a chance to make a play.

It worked on the 39-yard pass to Marty Booker that set up the Bears' only touchdown, and it resulted in a 33-yard pass interference penalty committed against Justin Gage that set up Paul Edinger's field goal on the game-opening possession.

"There were quite a few called," Rex Grossman said of the deep routes. "And there were a lot of times when (the Vikings' defensive backs) were back deep, and I really didn't get to check down to my back, so I gave them a shot. Marty and Justin, I just gave them a shot at it.

"They're great athletes, they know where the ball's coming, they're looking at the ball, so the odds are in their favor. If they get a step on the DB, I'm going to throw it as far as I can on a line. But they never really got on top of the DB, so I just gave them a shot at the ball. Marty made a great catch on that."

The last No. 8 who played quarterback for the Bears once speculated that several of his deep passes overshot their intended targets because the receivers were tired. When it came to intangibles like being a leader or earning the respect of veterans, Cade McNown failed miserably. There are no rankings for those qualities, but they're vital, especially at quarterback.

"I think it's critically important," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. I think that's a critical part of it in any group of people that work together. The only groups I really know are teams. But the team is a very special thing, and you want to be part of it, and you want to fit into it because, when that happens, it just grows and it makes everything that much better. And this guy is a quality guy, and he does fit in.

"He's not real talkative, (but) he's not quiet. He tells you what he thinks. He's a bright guy, and he clearly likes to play. He likes to play football, and the players do respond to that."

"He made a lot of smart decisions out there (by) throwing the ball away," defensive end Alex Brown said of Rex Grossman's debut. "They're incomplete passes, but he didn't take the sack, so those are smart plays."

Times when he was being pressured or couldn't find an open receiver, Grossman threw balls that were uncatchable rather than force a risky throw into coverage or lose yardage by taking a sack, which is what he had been coached to do.

"He didn't want to take a sack and get us into third-and-long situations," quarterbacks coach Greg Olson said. "We preached that all week long with him. I thought he was pretty good in the pocket."

As a result, the Bears converted 43 percent of their third-down situations (6 of 14), their second-best rate of the season, well above their season average of 33 percent and better than the league average of 37.


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