Grossman as 'focused' as ever

Reed Schreck

Rex Grossman looks the same, sounds the same. We’ll find out Sunday if he plays the same.

Which, really, no one wants him to.

The Chicago Bears want their quarterback to play better. He wants to as well, and expects to.

"I’m as focused as I’ve ever been," he said Wednesday at Halas Hall as the team prepares for its season opener Sunday at San Diego. "I’m excited about it.

"We’ve got a great team, a great supporting cast, and great coaches. I feel like this is where I want to be in my career, and I’m excited about what we’ll be able to do."

If he doesn’t improve, he knows he’ll again endure criticism from fans and media. He knows it can’t get much worse than last year, even though he had seven quarterback ratings of 100 or higher and took his team to the Super Bowl.

"What motivates me is to become a great quarterback in this league and for this franchise, and it doesn’t hurt when people doubt me," he said.

He was asked what would be a fair way to be evaluated.

"I’m not sure. I don’t even want to get into that. As long as I’m happy at the end of the year, I think that’s pretty fair. And I have high expectations, so well leave it at that."

Offensive coordinator said Grossman has experienced "tremendous growth" from last season.

"He’s had many times in the offseason to study himself," he said. "Last year, going into training camp, he’s learning the offense but watching somebody else do it. Now he’s had a chance to go into the offseason and watch himself run the offense when we talk about plays, and that’s huge.

"He’s done it over and over. He has a real good understanding of why we’re calling it, and not just trying to memorize where to go."

His teammates see the scrutiny Grossman is subjected to, and admire him for the way he holds up.

"My expectation is for him to play very, very well," wideout Rashied Davis said. "I know he’s going to play well. It doesn’t matter what my expectations are. I know Rex is capable of doing what he’s going to do this year. Rex is going to be great."

Said center Olin Kreutz:

"I don’t think it affects him. He just keeps working every day and getting better.

"None of us appreciate it, but I don’t think Rex needs to be protected by anybody. Rex handled it well. He doesn’t blame anybody. He goes back to work.

"I think people try to run him down and hope it affects him, but it really doesn’t. Rex just plays his game and does what he does."

Grossman has had plenty of time to put last season behind him and look toward the future. He said he didn’t think the preseason seemed too long because "we were working hard to establish a core offense, and that’s a fun process to go through. To get into a rhythm and feel comfortable as a team.

"In the five, six weeks we had, we accomplished a lot. It doesn’t really matter what we did in the preseason games, it’s what we accomplished as on offense in this whole offseason."

That means he anticipates being better because the players around him should be improved, too. He thinks getting in his first full season, which included 19 games and two playoff wins, "can only help."

"Being in those types of atmospheres, knowing how to react, how the offense relates to going through all 19 games, everything just comes a little faster to you as a quarterback and to everyone else."

What does Grossman have to do to win over critics?

"Go out and play well consistently, I guess," Turner said. "He’s won over everyone in this locker room, and that’s the important thing."

Reed Schreck is the NFL Writer for the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at 815-987-1381 or rschreck@rrstar.com.