A year ago at this time, Quick Shots wondered if Rex Grossman could continue his early success if teams stopped biting so hard on Chicago’s deep play-action passes. We all know how horribly that turned out.
A year ago at this time, Quick Shots wondered if Rex Grossman could continue his early success if teams stopped biting so hard on Chicago’s deep play-action passes.
We all know how horribly that turned out. Chicago’s new quarterback question is whether teams will catch on and take the middle of the field away from Brian Griese.
While the strong-armed Grossman loved to throw out patterns, the vast majority of Griese’s big pass plays are across the middle. The game-winning TD passes at Green Bay and Philadelphia, and the first of his two late TD throws against Minnesota are all examples. Defenses may start trying to take that away.
On the other hand, Tom Brady also does most of his damage over the middle. There’s more open space there. And it’s a shorter pass. As long as you can see over the congestion, it’s easier to make big plays over the middle than on the edges, where the sideline serves as an extra defender.
Bypass Hester at your own risk
Teams get ripped for kicking to Devin Hester. Why? The underdog Bears are 2-0 when opponents avoid Hester. They are 1-4 — with three upset defeats — when opponents treat Hester like a normal player. Teams SHOULD kick to Hester, but angle the kicks toward the sideline, giving him less room to maneuver.
Solve run problems with pass
Cedric Benson paused a full 11 seconds trying to answer a radio reporter who asked how the Bears should fix their No. 30-ranked rushing game. The answer is easy: pass. The Patriots and Colts rank 1-2 in rushing first downs with 63, and 60, more than double Chicago’s 29.
Everyone thinks the Patriots and Colts are pass-happy, but they rank No. 2 and 3 in the NFL in most rushes per game. They only have a combined 20 more passes than runs because they take the lead and soften up defenses with the pass, then run all they want. The Bears have 73 more passes than runs because they fall behind and then abandon the run in an attempt to catch up. Chicago needs to turn Brian Griese loose early, then rely on Benson late.
Red Sox success good for baseball
Another Red Sox World Series victory would strike a blow for baseball balance. The Rockies and Indians have payrolls smaller than the Twins, and seven of this year’s eight playoff teams did not make the postseason last year. But that all gets forgotten fast. Anyone still singing the praises of the Marlins two titles? Didn’t think so. But the Red Sox winning sticks it to the Yankees. Baseball’s always more fun when George Steinbrenner gets riled. Red Sox-Yankees, especially with the Red Sox in their new role as superiors, gives baseball a passion play no other sport can match.
Griese makes plays in clutch
Holdout Rex Grossman supporters keep harping on Brian Griese averaging a Grossman-like two turnovers a game. As if quarterbacks can only be measured by counting mistakes.
Grossman threw one career game-tying or game-winning TD pass in the last three minutes of a game. Griese has done that three games in a row. Griese averages 301 yards passing; Grossman hit 300 yards once in 30 career starts. Griese is at his best when it matters most, with a 103.4 passer rating in the fourth quarter and 92.4 on third down. Grossman, always bad, was even worse when the Bears really needed him. He was 38th in the NFL in fourth-quarter passing last year and 26th on third down, and last in both this year.
No excuse for missed tackle
Ricky Manning Jr. is a good nickel back, but nothing more. Last week, Donovan McNabb’s third-down scramble with three minutes left almost kept Chicago from getting a last chance to win. Manning had a perfect shot at him down the sideline, three yards shy of the first down, and didn’t even touch him.
Rockford Register Star assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.