Can Grossman Withstand Criticisms?

Bears quarterback Rex Grossman has plenty of critics in and out of the Chicago area, but his teammates continue to support him during erratic times.

Every time quarterback Rex Grossman has played a poor game this season he's bounced back with an excellent performance in his next outing.

He'll get yet another opportunity to redeem himself at noon Sunday against the Vikings and continue his roller-coaster season. Despite a four-turnover disaster in Sunday's loss to the Patriots, his job is secure.

During Grossman's 15-for-34 passing performance last week that included three interceptions and a lost fumble, Fox color analyst Troy Aikman, a Hall of Fame quarterback with the Cowboys, said the young quarterback was holding the team back.

"I don't believe that," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "I definitely don't get into what everybody else thinks. As a football team, we think Rex gives us the best chance to win. He's our starting quarterback, and that's all that really matters. Other people's opinions really don't (matter)."

When the Bears attempt to clinch the NFC North title Sunday against the Vikings, Grossman will be back in the friendly confines of Soldier Field, where he has posted passer ratings of over 100 in four of five games and thrown 12 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.

When Grossman turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions, against the Cardinals on Oct. 16, he came back home to throw three touchdowns without a pick against the 49ers in the next game. When he was picked off three times and lost a fumble in the loss to the Dolphins, Grossman rebounded with three touchdown passes against the Giants.

Teammates remain publicly supportive of the four-year veteran, who has started just 18 NFL games, even though nine-year veteran Brian Griese is waiting in the wings with a 39-33 record in the NFL as a starter and a career passer rating of 84.8.

"He's our quarterback," five-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz said. "We're not trying to convince everybody that he's a good quarterback. He is a good quarterback. Five games into the year everybody was talking about him as the MVP of the league. So, Rex has done a lot of good things. Check his stats against everybody else in the league and see who is doing better than Rex."

Grossman has been among the league leaders, but against the Patriots, his passer rating was 23.7, the second worst of his career. That dropped him to No. 21 in the NFL with an overall passer rating of 77.6. And only the Giants' Eli Manning, with 15; and the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, with 19; have more interceptions than Grossman's 14. But Grossman is tied for fifth in the league with 18 touchdown tosses, trailing only the Colts' Peyton Manning (21), the Bengals' Carson Palmer (21), the Patriots' Tom Brady (20) and the Saints' Drew Brees (19).

Bears guard Ruben Brown, a 12-year veteran and eight-time Pro Bowl pick believes that in time Grossman will refute those who doubt his ability to lead.

"Just sit back and watch," Brown said. "They can question Rex all day. We're going out and playing with him, and he's going to keep trying to improve just like we are. We're going to try to assist him in any way that we can up front on the line. I have total confidence in Rex. There's no wavering of feelings at all as far as I'm concerned."

But if Grossman's performance is gauged month by month, there is some cause for concern.

In September, he had his three most productive games of the season in terms of passing yards, throwing for 262, 289 and 278 yards. He completed 64.9 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and three interceptions.

In four October games, Grossman completed 55.7 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. For November, he completed just 48.4 percent of his passes, with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

"He's (just) one member of our team," Smith said. "From September to now we're 9-2, and he's leading us to that record, and that's what I'm interested in. As a football team, we feel good about Rex being our quarterback. There's no more to talk about."

But there may be a lot to talk about if Grossman doesn't rebound on Sunday from his latest disaster.

SERIES HISTORY: 92nd meeting. Vikings lead series 48-41-2. The Bears won the first meeting this season 19-16 in Week Three and each of the last four series have been split. The Vikings appeared to have the first meeting this season wrapped up when they had the ball and a 16-12 lead, but defensive tackle Tommie Harris forced a late fumble, and quarterback Rex Grossman threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Rashied Davis with 1:52 left to win it for the Bears.


  • DT Tommie Harris had five sacks in the first four games, but he has now gone seven straight games without a sack.

  • DLE Adewale Ogunleye, who led last year's team with 10 sacks, has just two in the past nine games and only 3.5 for the season, although he missed Games 5 and 6 with a hamstring injury.

  • DRE Alex Brown has two sacks in the past six games after getting three in the first five.

  • NT Tank Johnson has 1.5 sacks all season after getting five last year. His shared sack of the Jets' Chad Pennington on Nov. 19 was his first since Week Two.

  • DE Mark Anderson began the season with 7.5 sacks in the first seven games, but he's gotten just that one-half sack in the past four weeks.

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