Monday, September 24, 2007

Good Night, Sweet King

If you came home from work expecting there to be a huge headline on reading "REX IS DONE," then you just don't know how Lovie Smith operates. That didn't stop me from expecting that very thing, though. However, here is what Smith did have to say about the quarterback situation, if you haven't seen it by now, which of course you have, but here it is anyway:

"Will Rex Grossman start Sunday? Well, our evaluation process is going on right now," Smith said. "And if you come out to practice Wednesday, you'll have a better idea of who will be starting at all positions."

Based on my own subtle knowledge of Lovie Smith's way with the press, I have to say it sounds like Rex is done. And if Rex still is the starting quarterback next week, it means that the coaches sat down and took a good long look at the quarterback's they have and decided that Griese is terrible. In which case, why not cut him?

Actually, I think the only hesitation on Lovie's part probably is the decision between Griese and Orton.

I'd just like to say, however, contrary to what most people probably think, which is that Lovie is being indecisive here, I think Lovie's carefully guarded statement is more an indication of his decisive nature. By which I mean that Lovie knows, and has known for a while, that once he benches Rex Grossman, that's it. Grossman is done. He will never start another game for the Chicago Bears unless both Griese and Orton get injured. I think Lovie stuck with Grossman for as long as he did both out of the belief that Grossman has appeared to have a tremendous amount of potential and because he wanted any decision to be made about Grossman to be final. If he'd benched Grossman any time last season, there would have been that glimmer of possibility that his badness was just a fluke, and that he could possibly be brought back and turned into the quarterback he sometimes promised to become. So, instead, he kept him as the starter, and he gave him every opportunity to show he could improve: a new quarterback coach, a full off-season as the firm starter, the benefit of an entire preseason without the possibility of losing his job, etc. With all of that, if Grossman didn't show any improvement, well, there couldn't really be any lingering doubt about whether he deserved another chance. If, as I fully expect, the Bears have a new starting quarterback on Wednesday, it will be a permanent move. And Grossman's tenure with the Bears will be completely over.

Which makes me sad. I didn't expect it to be like this. I wasn't expecting great things from Rex this year, but I was expecting improvement, maybe a little more consistency. Instead, we're only three games into the season, and suddenly it feels like the Bears will have to fight tooth and nail to make the playoffs. Call it the benefit of lowered expectations, but, at this point, of the Bears manage to pull off enough wins to earn a playoff spot, I'll be thrilled. I still believe they have the potential to be a great team, and this season is still young enough that it could have a happy ending, but they're going to have to fight way harder to earn it than any of them thought they would. There are no longer any gimme games on their schedule--not even against the Lions this week.

And it still hurts quite a lot.

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