Sunday School: What We Learned

The Chicago Bears are in deep trouble. Even though they're 5-3 and atop the NFC North, the injury to Kyle Orton is another reason for fans to fear the worst. Here are five things we learned about the Midway Monsters after a come-from-behind 27-23 victory over the winless Lions on Sunday.

1. Grossman is the same player he's always been at the quarterback position
With Kyle Orton going down due to an ankle injury and likely to miss the next few weeks, that means Rex Grossman – Public Enemy No. 1 around Chicagoland – will once again be under center. When called upon in relief against the ghastly Lions on Sunday, the 2008 version of Grossman looked pretty similar to the 2007 version: inaccurate passes, balls batted down at the line of scrimmage, limited mobility, problems with pressure, and waves of booing from an ornery Soldier Field crowd. You have to give him credit for engineering two touchdown drives in the second half and delivering a win at the end of the day, but there was little to be excited about after his 9-of-19 performance through the air.

When one reporter asked Grossman after the game if he had learned anything by not playing the first half of the season, the former first-round draft pick simply shook his head "no" time and time again.


DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila
Al Messerschmidt/Getty

2. Signing KGB to play D-end might be a good idea
Alex Brown registered three sacks in the first five games of the season, but he hasn't been anywhere near the enemy quarterback the last three contests. And while Adewale Ogunleye was credited with 1.5 sacks against these same Lions at Detroit in Week 5, he has a grand total of zero sacks in the other seven games he's played. Mark Anderson, the 2006 runner-up for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after posting 12 sacks, has only six tackles all season long – none of which is a sack – and may have worn out his welcome in the rotation at defensive end.

The Bears need reinforcements with regard to their pass rush, so signing Packers all-time sack leader Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who compiled 9.5 sacks as recently as this past year but was released by Green Bay unexpectedly Saturday, might be the shot in the arm this defense needs.

3. Forte is already an elite back and worthy of Pro-Bowl consideration
The balance of power has shifted in the league this season to some degree, as the NFC appears to have carried some momentum from last year after the Giants upset the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Several running backs in the NFC are having sensational campaigns statistically, led by MVP candidate Clinton Portis – he's rushed for a league-leading 995 yards in only nine games. Adrian Peterson of the Vikings, Michael Turner of the Falcons, and Brandon Jacobs of the those same Giants have also been spectacular, plus Marion Barber seems to be the only Cowboy firing on all cylindars right now.

That being said, very few players mean more to their respective offenses than rookie Matt Forte, who leads the Bears in both rushing and receiving, is on pace to score 12 touchdowns, and simply took over Sunday's game against the Lions after Orton couldn't continue.


S Mike Brown
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

4. Brown's injury is not a good sign going forward
Mike Brown has been one of the best safeties in the NFL for quite some time when operating at full capacity, although he hasn't been able to finish a 16-game schedule since 2004 because of a series of lower-leg injuries. Even though Brown continues to maintain that all of those ailments have been unrelated – an Achilles in `04, a calf in `05, a foot in `06, a knee in `07 – it's impossible to ignore the fact that they sometimes seem fairly similar. He came up with his first interception of the year Sunday against the Lions and has been effective on the blitz from time to time, but Bears fans are understandably sour after hearing of yet another calf problem for the defensive captain.

While head coach Lovie Smith was adamant with the media Monday that the injury is not a season-ender, it's simply too easy to be skeptical because of Brown's track record in recent years.

5. So much for the bye week giving this team a chance to get fully healthy
The Midway Monsters had an extra seven days to get rested and healthy for Week 9, but Orton's bum ankle is just the highlight of what promises to be another lengthy injury report before Week 10. And the timing couldn't be worse for Smith and Co. as the undefeated Titans – arguably the most physical team in the league with their smash-mouth style on both sides of the ball – invade the Windy City this weekend. Fans have no idea what to expect from Grossman, Brandon Lloyd is still a question mark after spraining his knee all the way back in Week 3, and Nathan Vasher was shaky at cornerback upon his return from a wrist problem.

Perhaps most importantly, not having Brown patrolling the secondary, even though he hasn't quite been the same player in 2008, could be devastating because his vocal leadership can't be replaced.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report 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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