This is the funny part about the Bears' benching of Rex Grossman: It comes as they are about to play the Lions.
Grossman had the best game of his NFL career against the Lions last season. In a 34-7 victory Sept. 17 at Soldier Field, Grossman went 20-for-27 for 289 yards and four touchdowns. He posted a career-best 148.0 passer rating.
In two games against the Lions last season, Grossman threw five touchdowns against zero interceptions. When Grossman plays well, he can make big plays. And the Lions are susceptible to big plays, as they showed Sunday in a 56-21 shellacking at Philadelphia.
"All I can say is, against us, he was very effective," Lions coach Rod Marinelli said. "He's a heck of a quarterback."
The joke in Detroit is that the Bears didn't want to play Grossman against the Lions, because if he played well, they wouldn't have been able to bench him the next week.
Brian Griese hasn't started a game since October 2005 -- when he was with Tampa Bay, and Marinelli and Lions defensive coordinator Joe Barry were on the Buccaneers coaching staff. Griese is known more for short, quick, accurate passes, and the Lions' Tampa 2 defense is designed to keep throws short.
But the Lions defense is also designed to make the opponent self-destruct, and Griese is thought to be less likely to turn over the ball than Grossman, who has already thrown six picks this year.
Lions left tackle Jeff Backus blocked for Griese at Michigan in 1997, when Griese led the Wolverines to a 12-0 season and their first -- their only -- national title since 1948.
Asked what Griese would bring to the Bears, Backus said: "Poise and intelligence and just a mature approach. He's going to be able to manage the game. He'll take what the defense gives him. He's a smart player."
The bottom line for the Lions, though, is that it doesn't matter who plays quarterback against them these days. They have to be better than they were against the Eagles, when Donovan McNabb went 21-for-26 for 381 yards and four touchdowns.
"We've just got to play better in the secondary; we will play better in the secondary," cornerback Travis Fisher said. "We're much better than that. We're much better, much better, than what you saw last week in that game. ... It wasn't the Detroit secondary."
When the Eagles weren't burning the Lions with screen passes, they were using max protection. That neutralized the Lions defensive front and gave McNabb time to throw. The Lions defensive backs couldn't cover the Eagles receivers, even though they were often four-on-two.
"We didn't get it done against max protect," defensive end Dewayne White said. "We didn't get pressure on McNabb. I look for every other team to do it until we stop them."
SERIES HISTORY: 155th meeting. Bears lead series, 87-62-5. The Bears have won the last four meetings. The games at Soldier Field have been blowouts -- 38-6 in 2005, 34-7 in last year. But the games at Ford Field have been close -- 19-13 in overtime in 2005, 26-21 and decided on the last play last year.