Mike Nadel: Blame Rex, sure, but not only Rex
If memory serves, Lovie Smith had to run Wade Wilson out of town because the Bears' quarterbacks coach couldn't or wouldn't improve Rex Grossman's mechanics. Thank goodness! Imagine how bad Rex would be if he hadn't been straightened out by Pep Hamilton.
Hamilton, Wilson's replacement, was supposed to make Grossman the most fundamentally sound QB this side of Peyton Place. To hear the Bears talk, Pep and Rex went together like "ramma lamma lamma da kinga da dinga dong." Or for those young'uns not versed in "Grease," they were going to be the Bears' version of Johnny Drama and Turtle.
Instead, Hamilton and Grossman have formed Chicago's least successful sports pairing since Zambrano and Barrett.
OK, enough about Pep. When does at least some of the blame - for Grossman's problems in particular and the offensive woes in general - stick to Mr. Teflon, Ron Turner?
The Bears advertise their coordinator as a quarterback guru. Quick: Name one Pro Bowl QB the man ever guru-ed. When Erik Kramer, Kurt Kittner and Rex Grossman are your prized pupils, that's some pretty dubious guru-ing.
And doesn't the buck stop at the head coach? How has Smith made Grossman better? By enabling and coddling and justifying Rex's shortcomings? Yeah, that's worked wonders.
Based on his comments this week, it finally seems Smith is up to here with idiotic interceptions and fumbled snaps. In his quaint, Lovie-speak way, he has put Grossman on notice. Welcome to the party, coach.
"The turnovers ... are something we have to eliminate," Smith said. "Simple as that."
If Grossman plays give-away again Sunday night against Dallas, Lovie seems to be saying, Rex simply will be eliminated from the lineup in favor of Brian Griese.
Though they're 2-0, the Cowboys are soft on defense, having allowed 55 points and the second-most passing yards in the league. Can Turner, Hamilton and Grossman take advantage? Or will the offensive leaders humiliate themselves on national television, requiring Devin Hester and the D to save the Bears again?
This was supposed to be Grossman's big year. Instead, he has regressed significantly. If Rex continues to be guilty of godawful quarterbacking, all those mentioned above - from Pep to Ron to Lovie - will have been accomplices.
And let's not forget Rex's teammates. Until they prove they can pick up blitzes, opponents will keep firing away at will. In Week 1, each tailback fumbled. In Week 2, wide-out Bernard Berrian lost the ball. Meanwhile, Muhsin Muhammad is whining about no longer being the go-to receiver. Oh, boo-hoo. Grossman threw a perfect 30-yard pass to him last week, and the football went right through those oven mitts Moose calls hands.
With one touchdown in two games, the Bears are lost offensively - and Grossman certainly deserves a good paddling. But his teammates and coaches should be standing right alongside him, drawers down, greeting each smack with: "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"
The Cowboys have one of the NFL's top punters, Mat McBriar, but the Dallas Morning News says coach Wade Phillips is unlikely to give Hester a chance to break open the game with any big returns.
"It's frustrating when guys kick it out of bounds and don't give me a chance," Hester said. "This is the NFL. It's the highest level of football. Kick it to me and play football. Don't be scared."
Scared? What is this, fifth grade?
Last I checked, NFL coaches aren't paid to be macho; they're paid to win. So many things happen during a game the coach can't control. He can control this. Were I in his shoes, I'd never kick to Hester. Period.
Once again, NFL honchos overreacted to a TD celebration by Terrell Owens. They fined the Dallas receiver $7,500 for the way he very creatively used the football as a videocamera to mock cheating New England coach Bill Belicheat.
"I was just having fun," T.O. said. "They're trying to find any way to take the fun out of the game."
When a guy pretending the football is a camera gets fined as much as or more than jerks who intentionally clip, chop-block and spear opponents, it's hard to blame Owens for being bummed.
The Cowboys will be blitzing. Will Rex react properly? If not, Bear Country finally might get their precious Griese. I see Grossman playing well enough, maybe finding Berrian open deep a couple of times. I also see the Bears' defense inflicting more pain than the Cowboys knew was possible. Ultimately, I see it coming down to Robbie Gould's accurate leg.
Bears 20, Cowboys 17.
NFL Pick Six
1. Patriots (2-0). Put up 38 against vaunted San Diego defense that had held Bears to 3.
2. Colts (2-0). After close call vs. Titans, now take on plucky Texans.
3. Steelers (2-0). Can Niners at least make Steelers sweat this week?
4. Chargers (1-1). Embarrassed by Pats, now face Green Bay team aching to prove itself.
5. Texans (2-0). After blowout win at Carolina, Matt Schaub's crew deserves respect.
6. Bears (1-1). Must beat Cowboys to avoid middle-of-pack status.
NFL Deep Six
32. Falcons (0-2). Byron Leftwich can't bail out this sinking ship.
31. Chiefs (0-2). Inept team should have lost by 4 TDs to Bears.
30. Bills (0-2). Another fine Dick Jauron production.
29. Dolphins (0-2). Yeah, but Don Shula sure looks great in those NutriSystem ads.
28. Giants (0-2). This happens when the team quits on its coach.
27. Saints (0-2). Trendy preseason Super Bowl pick apparently unaware regular season has started.
Mike Nadel (email@example.com) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service. Read his blog, The Baldest Truth, at www.thebaldesttruth.com.