Monday, September 17, 2007

Optimism: Because It's Fun

Now fully a year into the Rex Grossman debate, nothing much seems very clear about it. But with every week going by with yet another non-brilliant performance by Grossman, you can practically feel the Grossman bandwagon getting lighter. At this point, I'm not especially interested in trying to find reasons to defend him. I was holding out hope that he would turn out to really be the quarterback we saw for the first six or so games of last season, but it's been a long time since he showed any evidence to support that hope. But what I find especially lame is that all of the Grossman haters are pretty sure at this point that they were right all along, and that who Grossman really is is the quarterback from the Minnesota-New England stretch last year. The thing is, I don't think they're right either. Grossman has not looked especially good this year, but he hasn't looked panicked or clueless, either. He's been really struggling out there for most of the preseason and now for most of the regular season, but the main things he said he wanted to improve on--stepping up in the pocket and not throwing off of his back foot--well, he's really gotten better in both of those areas. Although he hasn't been particularly good at reading the blitz, we haven't had to watch him run backwards for twenty yards before he gets sacked. And the interception on the screen pass intended for Wolfe is the only play I can think of where he threw off of his back foot. All of which means, I think, that he's really working some stuff out, and really working on how he plays the game. That's something that it was obvious was not happening last season, and I'd say the fact that it is happening now is a good thing.

Here's what Rahula Strohl has to say about Grossman this week, "The numbers Grossman put up Sunday looked eerily similar to the numbers Kyle Orton put up in 2005. If Grossman puts up Orton '05 numbers for another week or two, the Bears have to wonder what Orton '07 has to offer."

I have to say I kind of agree with this sentiment. The Bears, as they have for the past two seasons, have a championship-ready defense and special teams, and they really don't need a whole lot from the offense to succeed. It still seems like Grossman should have a pretty high ceiling, but at some point we have to face the fact that it might be a ceiling he's not capable of reaching. There might just be something in his brain that will always hold him back from becoming the type of quarterback he's shown he's capable of being only in flashes. I'm not sure exactly what the best way to handle the situation would be, but you really have to wonder, if Grossman hasn't shown significant progress by mid-season, if there isn't some way to figure out if the team would be better off with Orton as starting quarterback. The only way I see that happening, though, is if the Bears are 4-4 or worse at mid-season, a possibility that makes me kind of nauseated, but that I have to admit seems a whole lot more possible to me now than it did three weeks ago. If that happens, it will be pretty obvious that it's either because of Grossman or Turner. I honestly do think that ultimately the offense's problems are Ron Turner's problems, and that the should've gotten the boot after last season along with Rivera, but there's no way they're ditching Turner midseason. Trying someone else out in Grossman's spot is really the only possibility.

I still think, though, that Grossman has to actually lose a few more games for the Bears before resorting to anything that drastic. So far, Grossman hasn't actually lost any games yet for the Bears this year, so all this conjecture about a future Orton sighting is nothing more than just anxious worry. (yeah, I'm chalking up the Chargers loss to luck, essentially. Grossman didn't do much to win the game, but he did more than any other member of the offense, and he did less to lose it than Benson, Peterson, and Berrian did.)

This was supposed to be about optimism, so here it is: I really don't think any of that's going to be necessary. I think Grossman is going to keep getting better at what he's trying to get better at, and as that stuff becomes more second-nature to him, he's going to start looking more like the guy from the first part of last season, with better fundamentals. Nothing wrong with that.

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