Grossman is basically still at a rookie level. He was held out for most of last season because John Shoop and Dick Jauron didn't believe he was ready.
I didn't agree with that philosophy at all. The kid is good. Put him in and let him learn. But that's where we are. I say the more Rex plays before the season starts, the better for the Bears. He needs to get his timing down and to refine his accuracy. Game experience is the only way to accomplish that.
Let's hope that we don't see nearly as many penalties this week as there were against the Saints. Coaches are usually OK with penalties that come from aggression-something like holding or clipping. It shows that your player is trying but got a little too eager then was caught by the ref.
The other kind of penalty is something that no coach is happy about-false start, delay of game, that kind of thing. It shows either inattention of a lack of knowledge of the system. It is a clear sign that a lot more practice time needs to be spent on whatever is causing the problem.
The number of penalties on special teams players was problematic. You don't expect those kinds of mistakes from them. I think that's something that needs to be corrected immediately because you don't want to lose yardage that way during the season.
The rap on Jauron was always that he was too easy on his players. He used to mention that he was "saving their leg's." OK, you can take that approach but it wasn't terribly successful.
Smith is a much harder taskmaster. Good for him. He's learned the system and he knows how to get the most out of his players. So what if they get tired? They are getting millions of dollars to exert themselves. Their agents might complain but they will also win some games.
I was very impressed by the offensive line last weekend. Their timing was good. Their protection for the run was tremendous. I also liked the way the entire offense handled goal line situations. They kept their heads and made the right moves, also quite a change from what happened last season.
The receivers are somewhat of a concern to me right now. Justin Gage has been out there, but he hasn't produced like you would hope for at this stage of the preseason. Bobby Wade didn't have his best game but he has potential. I feel that he will be a player in the Tom Waddle mode-someone who will just head right through the middle and get his yardage no matter what the consequences might be to his physical health.
Bernard Berrian has good basics but still has a lot to learn. The kick return game is vital so let's hope he picks up the moves sooner rather than later.
Thomas Jones? What a player. He found daylight whenever his number was called. His cutbacks were first rate. He seems to possess great natural ability. His speed is noteworthy and his instincts for the game are just what the Bears have been looking for.
What about the defense? They need more work. There was a good goal line stand but a lot of their play was sloppy. I do like the players who have been added to the DL. Adewale Ogunleye was a steal and Dave Wannstedt should apologize to the Miami fans for letting him go. When Brian Urlacher returns, that fact alone should raise the overall level of play significantly.
So what do we have as the Bears conclude the preseason? A team that is still making some simple mistakes but a team with potential for success this year. I realize that quite a few critics said last week's game was depressing and a sign that things were not going well for Lovie. I disagree. In fact, I was excited to see the progress that the players have made in relatively short period of time.
I think we will see steady progress throughout the season and will be pleasantly surprised at how well they have done once January rolls around. No playoffs this year, but after 2004, the Bears could be a mainstay of the postseason contests.