Monday Morning Quarterback: Week 10November 10th, 2008 - 1:45 pm
It’s nearly been 24 hours since the Bears’ 21-14 loss to the unbeaten Titans, and hopefully that’s been enough time for Bears fans to calm down and reassess who’s to blame for the loss.
In my postgame thoughts, I was already bracing myself for public backlash against Rex Grossman, and lo and behold, my faith in the fickle fans and the bitter media has not let me down.
In the hours immediately following the game, two different polls on the Tribune and Sun-Times websites showed that Bears fans placed the majority of blame on Grossman for yesterday’s loss. (However, I am relieved to report that as of the time I’m writing this post, the Tribune’s poll shows defensive coordinator Bob Babich is more at fault).
I must ask, are there that many ignorant football fans in Chicago, or is the disdain for Grossman so great that these fans are willing to displace their blame and give the defense a free pass? I’m sure the same people pinning this loss on Grossman are the same fans who, week-in and week-out, vote for the Bears when the Tribune and Sun-Times put up polls asking who they think will win the game. Sorry, guys, but the Bears are not going to go 16-0. You have to click on the other team in some instances — yesterday’s game being one such example.
I agree that Rex Grossman did not play well yesterday. That’s a fact. But, let’s look at some of the other facts before rushing to judgment.
Is it Grossman’s fault that the Bears began an astounding 8 of their 13 possessions inside their own 20-yard line, 5 of which started inside the 10, including two that began at the 2-yard line?
Bears fans have such raw hatred for the man that they refuse to recognize that he’s been on the bench for nine weeks. Are we honestly supposed to believe that one week would be enough preparation for him to step into the starting lineup and succeed against arguably the best team in the league?
I don’t usually agree with the guy, but the Tribune’s Rick Morrissey made some good points when he wrote:
When Grossman sauntered onto Soldier Field in his familiar No. 8 jersey, the people in the stands were expecting … what, exactly? That he’d pull a game out of his helmet? That after so much inactivity, someone would play Dorothy with an oilcan to his Tin Man rustiness? That he would suddenly morph into the star he had never been?
It’s an expectations game and Bears fans had unrealistic expectations for both Grossman and the Bears.
Was I the only person out there who had predicted a Bears loss? I couldn’t have been. There had to have been some other intelligent fans who weren’t setting themselves up for disappointment. Let’s face it, nothing has changed since last week except the division race is a bit tighter.
Rex Grossman was supposed to be rusty in his first start of the season. The defense was supposed to have trouble rushing the quarterback. And the Bears were supposed to lose this game. What, besides the number 4 in the loss column, has changed since last week?
I’m going to say one last thing before I move on to the real reason the Bears lost this game, because, frankly, I’m sick of talking about it.
I hope and pray that Kyle Orton is healthy enough to play this week against the Packers. And not just because he gives the Bears a better chance to win. But because I’m sick and tired of dealing with a divided Bear Nation, and exhausted trying to combat the ignorance when it comes to Grossman.
Bears fans who loathe Rex Grossman: there are just seven more weeks left of this season and then you never have to see Grossman in a Bears uniform again. Until then, get over yourselves. Grossman is the backup quarterback. He lost the competition to Kyle Orton in training camp. Backup quarterbacks are supposed to struggle. Hell, half of the league’s starting quarterbacks are bad. So, keep your mouths shut and support all 53 players on this team, because you’re making yourselves — and all us true, loyal Bears fans — look bad.
If you feel you have to boo somebody, boo the defense. Which provides the perfect segway into the real problem of yesterday’s loss.
I want to know why the Bears’ backup quarterback gets so much heat while the defense receives a smattering of boos. This Bears pass defense is about as bad as I’ve ever seen it. Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins entered the game with just three touchdown passes on the season. He had two alone in this game. He also had his best outing with 289 passing yards while completing 30 passes for a 73% completion percentage.
This is Kerry Collins, yet another in a string of quarterbacks this season who have made the Bears look bad and yet, for whom Canton has no plans to make busts to place in the Hall of Fame.
When the defense allows the Titans to push them backwards the entire game, it’s no wonder the Bears’ offense couldn’t get anything going with their backs to their own end zone all afternoon. Play-calling changes dramatically when you have no room to operate.
I have to agree with my man, Tom Waddle, who, on Fox’s Final Word Sunday night, correctly stated that not even Kyle Orton could have won this game because Orton wouldn’t have improved this defense’s pass rush.
I’ve read columns claiming the Bears’ need to own up to their shortcomings on defense and admit they have a problem. And others that express bewilderment that Bob Babich hasn’t made any adjustments to fix the problem. But, has it ever crossed anyone’s mind that maybe the Bears understand they have a problem, and they’ve tried to make adjustments, but they just can’t fix it?
Is it possible that this defense is just plain bad?
We know they’ve been one of the best run defenses all year. In fact, they just held a Tennessee team, which had ranked third in the league with 149 rushing yards per game, to just 20 on the ground Sunday.
But perhaps the defense is just overpriced. All the millions of dollars spent on keeping this unit intact to ensure continuity has done anything but that.
As we head into “Packer week”, let me just say that the Bears can win this game. Lovie Smith has yet to lose at Lambeau Field. But if this pass defense can’t generate any kind of pressure, Aaron Rodgers will pick it apart. It won’t matter who’s at quarterback. It could be Orton, Grossman, Caleb Hanie… whoever. Nobody can save this defense from itself.
A loss to the Packers will not only give Lovie his first at Lambeau, but it could also drop the Bears to third place in the division if Minnesota wins, because the Vikings would be one game up and the Packers would own the tiebreaker.