Hot Topic: Griese Over Grossman

Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith made the switch at quarterback from Rex Grossman to Brian Griese primarily to cut down on turnovers, but Griese threw three interceptions and had one of them returned for a touchdown in a 37-27 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Turns out Brian Griese didn't give the Bears any better chance to win than Rex Grossman did. But the 32-year-old journeyman will have additional opportunities before the Bears go back to Grossman.

The reviews of Griese's first Bears start weren't much better than those for Grossman's first three games this season. In his first start in almost two years, the 10-year veteran threw three interceptions, two of which killed great scoring chances, while another was returned for a touchdown. Griese, who completed 34 of 52 passes for 286 yards (68.3 passer rating), including touchdowns of 15 yards to Muhsin Muhammad and one yard to Desmond Clark, was also sacked six times for 52 yards in losses.

"It wasn't good enough," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "As far as rusty, he hasn't played a lot, but the quarterback position has to protect the football. We turned the ball over again this week, and we can't do that."

That's why Grossman lost the job to Griese, but the Bears aren't expected to flip-flop between the two, and barring a change in philosophy, Griese will start Sunday night at Green Bay in a desperation game for the Bears, who at 1-3 are already three games behind the 4-0 Packers.

The Bears' offense came into Sunday's game ranked 30th in total yards, 29th in passing yards and 28th in scoring. They hoped for a spark from Griese but didn't get it. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner was asked if he thought the offense worked any better with Griese instead of Grossman.

"It didn't seem to," Turner said, "and we haven't played well yet offensively, so regardless of who's in there or what's going on offensively, we just have to put it together and play better and quit turning the ball over."

QB Brian Griese
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Griese's interceptions were killers. The Bears were leading 7-3 and had the ball six yards from the Lions' end zone with time running out in the first half, when Griese failed to lead Bernard Berrian sufficiently and the ball was picked off by Fernando Bryant at the 1-yard line with 29 seconds left.

Early in the third quarter, Mark Anderson sacked and stripped Lions quarterback Jon Kitna, and Brandon McGowan recovered for the Bears at the Lions' 12-yard line. But three plays later, Griese gave the ball back to Detroit with his second interception when he threw behind Berrian and the pass was picked off by linebacker Ernie Sims at the 4-yard line.

"Any time you turn the ball over, obviously it's bad," Turner said. "But when you don't take advantage of opportunities, you're asking for trouble. We had a great opportunity there. Our defense played great. They gave us a lot of opportunities to win the game. [When] we get the ball on the 12-yard line and don't get any points out of it, it's awfully tough to win."

While Griese remains the starter, the Bears haven't given up on Grossman.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, who drafted the former Florida star in the first round with the 22nd-overall pick in 2003, isn't pleased with the chain of events that have resulted in the benching of the five-year veteran, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

"It's disappointing only because Rex has put in a ton of time not only this off-season but also going through the injuries," Angelo said. "It's unfortunate, but it doesn't mean that Rex's career is over or anything like that. It's just we needed to make a change given that we have to put the best people out there each and every Sunday that we feel gives us the best opportunity [to win].

"We're certainly not blaming Rex for the demise of the offense thus far."

With 12 games left, Grossman still has time to salvage his season and his Bears career, according to the Bears' general manager.

"It's way too early in the season to be making determinations on anybody's future," Angelo said. "We've got a lot of football left to play, but we have to address that at the right time."

News & Notes
WR Devin Hester had 314 return yards vs. the Lions, including a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Hester picked up 219 yards on seven kickoff returns (31.3-yard average) and 95 yards on five punt returns (19.0-yard average). ... CB Nathan Vasher (groin) could be out another month, even though the Bears listed him as doubtful last Friday. ... OT John Tait left the game in the third quarter with a high ankle sprain and did not return. ... Berrian led the Bears in receiving for the fourth straight week with season bests of eight catches and 99 yards

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