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Posts Tagged ‘Rex Grossman’

Chicago Bears Find An Offense?

Posted by sportsmaven on August 14, 2007

Was it just me, or did the Chicago Bears bring out a semblance of an offense to their pre-season opener against the Houston Texans?¬† Bears QB Rex Grossman completed his first 8 passes and finished his night with an 8-10, 50 yard performance.¬† That’s right, an 80% completion rate.¬† My post from August 6th listed 5 things that the Bears must do to succeed in 2007:

1. Offense has to make another leap in performance ‚ÄĒ The surprise of last season‚Äôs team was definitely the performance of the offense. Nobody on the planet thought the Bears would be #2 in the NFL in scoring nor that Rex Grossman would throw 20 TD passes and over 3000 yards passing. For the Bears to jump to the next level, Grossman must improve his completion rate. Last season, he was at 54.6%. This season, he has to eclipse 60% and limit his interceptions from 20 to single digits.

Rex Grossman Leads Chicago Bears over Houston Texans
(AP Photo/Dave Einsel)

Grossman has looked sharp in training camp and looked sharp on Saturday night in Houston.  He checked down when his primary receivers were covered and did that well.  Rex actually looked like a quarterback on Saturday night.  The running game, led by Cedric Benson dished out some hits, but showed a sever drop off when Benson was replaced by Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe.

The Bears defense looked dominant, stopping the run, the pass, basically anything that got in front of them.  I thought that the Bears special teams needed quite a bit of work, especially on the kick coverage teams.

Could the Bears actually lead the league in scoring this season?¬† What a thought that would be….

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Top 5 Issues for Chicago Bears Success This Season

Posted by sportsmaven on August 6, 2007

The Chicago Bears have what seems to be a very interesting problem:¬† too much depth.¬† Now, I know what you’re thinking, how can a team have too much depth?¬† But that’s what the Bears have, so much so that they have traded last year’s starting SS Chris Harris to the Carolina Panthers and are looking to move another, reserve CB and special teams standout Dante Wesley.¬† I will be the first to admit that I was very hard on Bears GM Jerry Angelo in the early days, but the last 3 years, he has proven that he has not only grown into the job, but has been one of the most shrewdest GM’s in the game in that period.

Cedric Benson at Bears training camp

(Tribune photo by Scott Strazzante)

Angelo has wisely locked up core young talent early at a lesser price then they would have commanded in the open market, has drafted very wisely (has any GM drafted better from rounds 4-7?  If so, I want to know who that person is) and has built a roster that is arguably the strongest in the NFC from top to bottom.

The Bears are trying to defy recent history by returning to the Super Bowl a year after losing the Big Game, only a return is not the goal.  Winning the Super Bowl is the goal and it seems as though Bears head coach Lovie Smith has every man clearly focused on that goal once again.  For the Bears, 5 things have to happen in order to have a chance at returning to the Big Game:

1.¬† Avoid injuries at all cost — having the best bench depth in the NFC (and maybe in the league, west of New England) is definitely an asset, but you need your best players playing in top form all season.¬† If LB Brian Urlacher, QB Rex Grossman, RB Cedric Benson, WR Bernard Berrian, KR/PR/WR Devin Hester, DT Tommie Harris, or any one of the starting OL goes down, the next line of talent is thin at these positions.

2.¬† Offense has to make another leap in performance — The surprise of last season’s team was definitely the performance of the offense.¬† Nobody on the planet thought the Bears would be #2 in the NFL in scoring nor that Rex Grossman would throw 20 TD passes and over 3000 yards passing.¬† For the Bears to jump to the next level, Grossman must improve his completion rate.¬† Last season, he was at 54.6%.¬† This season, he has to eclipse 60% and limit his interceptions from 20 to single digits.¬† RB Cedric Benson is on the spot now, and must rush for at least 1,200 yards and 10 TD’s.¬† WR Mark Bradley must avoid the injury bug and establish himself as the #2 receiver, and WR Bernard Berrian must prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.

3.¬† KR/PR/WR Devin Hester must emerge as a multiple options threat — this is probably the most tenuous of all the options.¬† I can’t recall a return man who has excelled on the offensive side of the ball in recent history.¬† The Kansas City Chiefs tried KR Dante Hall at WR and that didn’t work.¬† Devin Hester could be one of the best open field players in NFL history, but not after one record setting season as a KR/PR.¬† Hester must prove that he is a threat regardless of position.¬† He didn’t stand out as a DB.¬† The offensive side of the ball is where he belongs, but yet again, he is very raw and unproven there….

4.¬† Defense can’t have another late season drop off — It was clear that the defense dropped off significantly in the second half of last season.¬† It was still a very good defense, but a dominant defense wins Super Bowl XLI and that wasn’t the case for the Bears.¬† The Indianapolis Colts rushed for 191 yards in the Super Bowl against a defense missing DL Tommie Harris and SS Mike Brown.¬† That defense stepped up against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game, but the time for the defense to shine is in December and January.¬† New defensive coordinator Bob Babich must bring more energy to the table then his predecessor, Ron Rivera, otherwise the change may be for naught.

5.¬†Young players must perform well — Of any reason listed above, the performance of young players have been one of the biggest contributors to the recent success the Bears have experienced.¬† KR/PR Devin Hester, SS Danieal Manning, WR Mark Bradley, when healthy, DE Mark Anderson, departed SS Chris Harris, K Robbie Gould are all young players that really turned their games on in their rookie or second years, pushing for playing time and putting high priced veterans on the bubble.¬† The pressure will be on this year’s draft class, particularly TE Greg Olsen, RB Garrett Wolfe, and CB Trumaine McBride to fill key roles.¬† If these rookies shine, expect the Bears to be even more potent.

Opening day in San Diego is right around the corner.¬† The time to play the Chargers might be early in the season, but this is a tough opener.¬† The non-division schedule is tough, with games against the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Seattle Seahawks, but to be the best, you have to go through the best.¬† The Bears will definitely have that to deal with this championship season….

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Lots Of Lovie In Chicago Tonight (And A Little Bit Of Angelo Too)

Posted by sportsmaven on March 1, 2007

Lovie and Jerry. Jerry and Lovie. Together the pair will be synonymous with the new Chicago Bears football landscape — for better or worse. Like the marriage it portrays, both Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo signed long term contracts to remain with the Chicago Bears in their current capacities. My collegues at Da’ Bears Blog said it best — short, sweet, and concise. Glad all is well at Halas Hall now. The dysfunctional family is fixed, the non-believers or conformers have been swept aside and the those who want to be Chicago Bears, at least on the coaching staff, are now Chicago Bears. (gotta work on the players now)

Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo
(Getty Images/chicagobears.com)

Lovie and Jerry, Jerry and Lovie, when you signed your names on the dotted lines the expectations heaped upon you have become enormous. In case you can’t see the Lake Forest for the trees, let me say it again, ENORMOUS. Anything short of a Super Bowl victory next season is complete failure. No time to let Rex Grossman develop on the job, no time to let a dominant defense collapse when it’s most needed. No more excuses for an inconsistent offense, or a whining Cedric Benson, or an underappreciated Thomas Jones. The stakes just went up. You played hardball with your salary negotiations and now you will need to play that same hardball on the tough personnel and roster decisions that need to be made between now and training camp. Super Bowl victory next season, because I can tell you right now, there are 61,500 + people that will be financing your shiny new raises and we will expect nothing less for next year and beyond.

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Tyrus Thomas Is The New Rod Tidwell

Posted by sportsmaven on February 6, 2007

I am sure Cuba Gooding, Jr. is available to play Chicago Bulls F Tyrus Thomas in this next movie. Tyrus, poor Tyrus. After the NBA graciously invited Thomas to the NBA Slam-Dunk contest, Tyrus got a bit of Rex Grossman-itis. When asked if he was pleased about the invite Thomas graciously replied:

Tyrus ThomasRod Tidwell

“Not really,” Thomas said. “I’m just going to go out there, get my check and call it a day.”

Asked if an opportunity to rub elbows with some of the game’s greats could be beneficial for a rookie, Thomas kept unlacing.

“I’m just into the free money,” he said. “That’s it. I’ll just do whatever when I get out there.”

With Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Julius Irving, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter as judges, you can be sure that Mr. Thomas would be denied the ball from any of this group, just to teach him a lesson. My prediction for the Slam-Dunk contest? Tyrus, you finish dead last.

Oh, by the way — Mr. Paxson wants you to show him the money in tune to a fine of $10K. This could be the first time in league history that a slam dunk contestant actually has to pay to be in the contest. I am sure glad that Tyrus Thomas is a baskeball player and not my stockbroker…..

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Chicago Bears Let Super Bowl Slip Through Their Fingers

Posted by sportsmaven on February 6, 2007

I know what you’re thinking, that the Chicago Bears were thoroughly dominated statistically in yesterday’s Super Bowl XLI. I beg to differ with my own Super Bowl analysis — the Bears were actually in it until the end. So what did the Sports Maven see in the matchup between the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts? I saw plenty to be disturbed about and things that are very encouraging for next season. My disturbing thoughts are:

1. The Bears played way too conservatively offensively. The Bears were 6 1/2 pt. underdogs coming into the game and had nothing to lose. When Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, first time in Super Bowl history that has happened, and the fastest score in Super Bowl history, the momentum of the game immediately swung to the Bears. When Chris Harris intercepted Peyton Manning on the Colts first offensive series, the momentum for the Bears was off the charts. I thought Ron Turner’s offensive gameplan was too concentrated on running the ball out of the gate and not using the pass to loosen up the Colts 8-9 man fronts. In their most successful offensive games of the season, the offense started by going deep early and establishing the passing game early. Then it became easier to pound the ball. I felt that Turner played into the Colts hands with his gameplan. Too many 3 and outs (15 possessions, 48 plays, for the game, and average of 12 3 and outs and 3 drives of 4 plays.) The Bears offense should have attacked after the Manning INT. Instead, it was 3 and out, momentum leaving the Bears. All and all, a ridiculously poor game plan from the offense. This play to not lose mentality has got to go. Despite all this, the Bears are still only 5 points down midway though the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl.

2. The Bears played way too conservatively on defense too. Bears played as though they were trying not to lose the game. My friends at dabearsblog.com said it best. Where was the blitz? When the Bears blitzed, Peyton Manning looked rattled. It was certainly effective, but problem was that it was rarely used. The bend but not break philosophy also has to go. Another game plan that played into the hands of the Colts, particularly Peyton Manning. Giving n Manning an opportunity to establish rhythm was the WORST thing the Bears could have done and they did it. This game was an opportunity to attach Manning, make him uncomfortable, but that never happened, as the defense played scared. I felt the Bears defense watched too many Colts players catch balls in front of them and then didn’t make plays. The Bears defense not stopping the Colts on third down was equally important as the Bears offense’s failure to run more than three plays at a time. Despite all this, the Colts couldn’t score offensive TD’s and the Bears are still 5 points down midway though the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl.

3. Third down conversions on both sides of the ball were not in favor of the Bears. The Bears couldn’t stop the Colts on third down. The Colts were 8 of 18 on third down, while the Bears were 3 of 10. Enough said on this one.

4. Turnovers and poor tackling hurts the Bears. The Bears committed 5 turnovers and missed more tackles than a Pop Warner little league team. Five turnovers in the Super Bowl? You gotta be kidding me….

5. Rex Grossman needs much work, more improvement, and some competition. Rex couldn’t hold the wet ball. Rex couldn’t take a snap, despite the fact that he took about 99.5% of all the snaps this season. Rex threw two costly interceptions, one with the Bears down only 5 points with most of the 4th quarter remaining. Rex is too much of a gambler. He wants to make the big play, and is very impatient. If there is one person Grossman should take cues from, it’s the guy across the sideline from him, Peyton Manning. Grossman is immature. He is immature in how he plays the game. He is immature in how he handles the media. He is immature in what comes out of his mouth. He needs to grow up. Shut up and play. Rex is too talented to be as wildly inconsistent as he displayed this year.

My encouraging thoughts are:

Davin Hester’s Touchdown in SB
Chris Harris Interception in SB

1. Bears return 19 of 22 starters. Nineteen of 22 starters under contract. The lone 3 are Pro Bowl OG Reuben Brown, who has expressed a strong interest in coming back, an interest shared by Bears management, Pro Bowl LB Lance Briggs, who will most likely be “franchised” if a new contract is not worked out, and DT Ian Scott, who inherited the starting DT position when Pro Bowl DT Tommie Harris went down for the season with a torn left hamstring.

2. Mike Brown and Tommie Harris will be back from injuries. The jury is still out on how they will play after injury. Tommie Harris is still young and many notable players have come back from a torn hamstring and been effective again. (Ray Lewis being one of them). Mike Brown’s Lisfranc ligament tear on his right foot is the more concerning of the two injuries, as players who have historically injured that ligament have difficult time returning to a high level of play. Nonetheless, the two stalwarts of the Bears D should be back in time for training camp.

3. The NFC North Division should once again be weak — the Bears will still have the most talented team in the division. They will not be playing a last place schedule next season, but 6 games against division foes should ease that pain. Of course, the Green Bay Packers will be improved with the announcement of Brett Favre’s return, so if anything, show up for BOTH Packer games.

4. The Bears are $23.9 million under the 2007 Salary Cap — this is a good thing, as the Bears will have a short laundry list of needs going into next season.

Urlacher SB Disappointment

So the end of a good season cut short with a Super Bowl loss….lets finish the job next year for the bandwagon for Glendale, AZ begins today. Next up, the NFL Combine in Indianapolis (of all places) and the 2007 NFL Draft, where the Bears will have the 31st pick of the draft.

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