Bears' Griese Earns Good Grades

The Bears may be over their continuous quarterback drama if Brian Griese can consistently play like he did in his second outing as a Bears starter. Can he do it against the Vikings this Sunday?

For the first time in recent memory, Bears coach Lovie Smith was not asked a single question about the quarterback position during his Monday afternoon press conference.

That, by the way, is a good thing for a rejuvenated team that still has a long way to go to get back to where it was a year ago, and especially for quarterback Brian Griese, who showed significant improvement in his second game since replacing Rex Grossman as the starter. Griese looked rusty a week earlier in his first start in nearly two years. But against the Packers, the 10-year veteran showed that he was capable of playing more than well enough to get the 2-3 Bears back to the playoffs.

Griese raised his passer rating from 68.3 in his first start to 97.8 in his second and cut his interceptions from three to one and his sacks from six to two.

"Great job (by) Brian Griese," Smith offered without being asked. "It all starts with the quarterback leading our offense. I thought he distributed the ball well to quite a few of the receivers. It seemed like everyone got involved."

While Griese threw just 25 passes and completed 15, he utilized nine different receivers, six of whom caught one pass.

"Brian did a great job of being aware of situations," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "He did a great job of just managing the game, and he also made some plays. When we had opportunities to make plays, he gave guys opportunities to step up and make them."

The biggest was the game-winning 34-yard TD pass to tight end Desmond Clark with 2:05 remaining. The play was designed to be a short flip to fullback Jason McKie in the flat, but when Griese saw Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk sniff it out, he went to Plan B, which was Clark.

"I looked back to see if Griese was looking at me," Clark said, "and when I looked back, the ball was coming. Everybody bit on Jason McKie out to the flat, and it just opened up."

Had Griese missed the connection, the Bears would have been forced to go for it on fourth-and-two or let Robbie Gould attempt a 52-yard field goal, which is three yards longer than his career best.

"Desmond did a good job of setting up the safety and getting open," said Griese, who laid the ball out perfectly. "It's one of those throws where you just try to get it out as fast as you can and hit him in stride to give him a chance to score."

Griese's performance on national TV guarantees that he'll be the Bears quarterback for the near future at least and much longer if he continues to play at the same level. But he said helping his struggling team get back on course is more important than his personal success.

"To be honest, I'm 100 percent about the team," said Griese, who is playing for his fourth organization and third in five years. "I just felt good for our team. I've put all the individual stuff behind me at this point in my career. I just want to be a part of a team that goes out and has fun winning, and that's why it felt good."

Considering the massive bag of ice the 32-year-old Griese had strapped to his left knee after the game, it didn't appear that he was feeling that great physically, but he dismissed any concern.

"The knee is fine," he said. "This is just old age."


  • RS Devin Hester was not allowed to field a single kickoff against the Packers, who kicked high and short all evening, but he had four punt returns for 40 yards.

  • TE Greg Olsen caught his first NFL TD, a 19-yarder, and led the Bears with four catches and was second with 57 receiving yards.

  • TE Desmond Clark led the Bears with 62 receiving yards on three catches, including the game-winning 34-yard TD grab.

  • WR Bernard Berrian, who led the Bears in receiving in each of the first four games, had just one catch for 10 yards before leaving in the second half with a toe injury.

  • RB Cedric Benson averaged just 2.4 yards per carry, picking up 64 yards on 27 carries.

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