Balanced Attack

Instability at quarterback has always limited what John Shoop has been able to do according to the offensive coordinator, but with Rex Grossman at the helm most assume that would change. Former Bear Mike Pyle discusses that and more.

The Bears are finally playing what I would call a normal football game. The offense mixed it up between running and passing. They had 429 yards with 29 first downs. How far back would we have to go in their record books to see those kinds of totals? This is how the team should have been playing all along.

I've been hearing some comments about the poor quality of the Redskins defense. OK, that's fine, but it isn't really about that at all. As I've been saying for a long time, it's all about Grossman. He brings the players to an entirely different level. It makes me wonder once more why he hadn't been put in long before now.

Anthony Thomas did very well. 141 yards is a respectable total, and better than he had done in most of the games this season. I liked the way the plays were mixed. There would be a few runs, some throws, more runs, and so on. Thomas would get the ball, and then Grossman would throw to one of nine receivers. That confused Washington's defense, which is the whole point.

But does that mean I liked Shoop's overall game plan? Sorry, folks, but I still think that he belongs in the minor leagues. Why? Think back to the first few plays of the game. Grossman came out and threw long immediately. Not a good idea when you are starting a rookie QB. Something simple, perhaps an off tackle run just to shake off Rex's jitters would have worked well. Instead, things completely fell apart.

The third quarter, however, was magnificent. The offense really had things under control. They had 11 first downs with two of them going for significant yardage on a third down. Incredible. It was a treat to watch. They had the ball for over 13 minutes and ran their downs efficiently.

The fourth quarter wasn't nearly as good due to poor clock management. It seemed, as if Grossman was unprepared for the two-minute drill which, when I was playing, was a staple of a quarterback's learning curve. It looked as if all of the calls were coming from the bench, so I chalk that up to inadequate QB preparation by his coaches.

What would I have done in that situation? Have my QB call for a measurement. When I played the captain or any designated player could call that at any time. We used that a lot. You might end up irritating the officials, but that's just too bad. Measurements served two purposes other than the obvious. One is to give your team a quick breather. The second is to have an opportunity to change a play or to get a better look at the defense.

During that final drive, it seemed that Rex didn't know what to do. He rushed and looked flustered. There were few time outs left. Just a few seconds to regroup would have been invaluable.

When I first played with the Bears, we had a pre season game in New Orleans. It was over 100 degrees on the field with 100% humidity. There had been six inches of rain the night before. We were exhausted shortly after the first whistle blew.

What I did as offensive captain was to call for one measurement after another. We needed a rest and there was no other way to get one. Luckily, there was some justification for this in the refs' minds as all the lines had washed off of the field, but they still got pretty mad near the end of the game. As a player, however, you do what you need to do to help your team.

Now it's time for Beat the Press. There's been a lot of discussion in the media recently about excessive end zone celebration. Some reporters seem to enjoy it. Here's my view: this is something that I don't like at all. Why? It's unprofessional. The player who is making a spectacle of himself seems to have forgotten just how he made that particular play.

Was the celebrant alone out there on the field when he reached the goal line? I doubt that. And if he needed some help from, say, his offensive linemen, shouldn't they be acknowledged too? Evidently not. It's hard to have more than one person calling on an end zone cell phone.

The Chicago Tribune's Mike Downey disagrees. In fact, he thinks that the celebrations are ‘interesting' and ‘entertaining.' Wrong, Mike. Football is a sport. It is a team effort. One player helps another. That's how things get accomplished. It's not only insulting but just plain wrong not to realize that. Again, an example of a writer's not letting the facts get in the way of what he sees as a good story.

Now for the other story that is making headlines in Chicago. A number of local writers seem to think that since the Bears have an improved record, it's OK to keep Dick Jauron. Again, I disagree. I like Jauron as a person. He has great integrity. But let's face facts. The reason that the Bears started so abysmally was due to poor preparation of the players by Jauron and his coaching staff.

The team simply wasn't ready to go during those first 5 or 6 games. That is the reason their record isn't good enough to get them into the playoffs. Yes, they are playing better, but this should have happened back in early September. Bring in a staff who can do this.

And then there's Shoop. He needs to look in the mirror once in a while. You mentioned in a recent press conference having to work with "2000 Bears quarterbacks who didn't get the job done." The quarterbacks haven't been producing because you've had a bad game plan. Why were Chandler and Stewart stuck with dinky little passes and now Rex can throw long for 60 yards? You never gave those other guys a chance. Please, leave before your hurt Grossman's game too.

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