What We Learned Sunday Afternoon

The Monsters of the Midway won their third straight ballgame away from Soldier Field and kept their faint playoff hopes alive for another week, and Bear Report came away from McAfee Coliseum in Oakland with five important observations from the game.

1. Bears fans should not be overly impressed with Sunday's victory
A win is a win in the National Football League, nobody will dispute that, but there was very little to be encouraged about after an ugly 17-6 triumph over a bad Oakland team. The Raiders' 30th-ranked rushing defense shut down colossal disappointment Cedric Benson to the tune of a miserable 2.6 yards-per-carry average, and a Silver-and-Black defense that had only racked up 11 sacks in its first eight contests managed to take down Brian Griese and Rex Grossman a total of three times. Devin Hester was a bust in the return game, Greg Olsen didn't catch a single pass, and Brian Urlacher once again looked awfully ordinary.

A 9-7 record will probably be good enough to reach the playoffs in a lackluster NFC this season, but does anyone really think the Cowboys or Packers would have been losing to this Oakland squad with less then four minutes to play in the fourth quarter?

2. The coaching staff still believes that Grossman is the best QB on the roster
Grossman received 40 percent of the snaps in practice leading up to the Week 10 matchup with the Raiders, up from his usual 30 percent and hinting that Bears brass is still not totally sold on Griese under center. Griese did instill some life into a dormant passing game and authored a pair of road victories at Green Bay and Philadelphia, but he couldn't cut down on the turnovers and deserves his share of the blame for inexcusable home losses to Minnesota and Detroit. Grossman came out of Sunday's game looking like a hero after hitting Bernard Berrian on that 59-yard touchdown strike in the closing minutes, but he was still throwing into double coverage, had a sure interception dropped by S Michael Huff, and couldn't move the football at all for 29 minutes before that deep strike.

With Griese's shoulder injury still somewhat of a question mark, the coaching staff now has the excuse it needs to throw Grossman back into the fire and give him a chance to win the starting gig back for the rest of the season.

3. Ogunleye is taking his new role as a defensive captain very seriously

DE Adewale Ogunleye
Jose Sanchez/AP Images
After Mike Brown went down yet again and was forced to injured reserve for the third time in four seasons, Adewale Ogunleye was named a defensive captain alongside Urlacher – the face of the franchise. Considered to be somewhat of a disappointment after coming to Chicago in a trade with the Dolphins before the 2004 season, Ogunleye is now tied with DT Tommie Harris for he team lead in sacks with 7.0 and was nothing short of dominant Sunday against Oakland. He harassed QB Josh McCown all day long and once again led the defensive line with six total tackles.

Ogunleye came into the 2007 season a few pounds lighter and hasn't been as chatty with the media as in the past, proving that he's determined to reach double digits in sacks and return to Pro-Bowl form.

4. Replacing Brown with Metcalf at guard did not make a difference up front
Ruben Brown may be a nine-time Pro Bowler and an eventual Hall-of-Famer, but not even he can be effective in the trenches when blocking with only one good arm. Brown was moved to injured reserve before Week 10 thanks to a nagging shoulder injury that made it very difficult for him to finish games, so there was some chatter around Chicago that inserting a healthy and rested Terrence Metcalf into the starting lineup might provide a spark to this struggling offensive line. However, Benson still couldn't find any holes, both Griese and Grossman were under pressure quite often, and the offense as a whole disappointed as a result yet again.

It could be time for the Bears to see what they have in rookie fourth-rounder Josh Beekman, especially since GM Jerry Angelo hasn't drafted an O-lineman of consequence since he took the reigns in 2001.

5. McBride is nothing short of a steal as a seventh-round draft pick
The Bears selected two cornerbacks in the 2007 NFL Draft because they had not yet signed either Charles Tillman or Nathan Vasher to the contract extensions they ultimately got, so there was some uncertainty concerning the future of that position at the time. With Vasher's groin injury keeping him on the shelf since the second half of the Dallas game in Week 3, both Ricky Manning Jr. and Danieal Manning were given opportunities to start at right corner in his place opposite Tillman. But it was been Trumaine McBride who has proven to be the best of the bunch, starting his fourth straight game Sunday at Oakland and registering four tackles, knocking down two passes, and also recovering a fumble.

Fellow corner Corey Graham was taken in the fifth round and had a good game in his own right on special teams, but McBride – a three-year starter in the loaded SEC at Ole Miss – looks to be a keeper as a below-the-radar seventh-rounder.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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