Wow. I can't believe the things I'm hearing and reading in the Chicago media these days. Two snippets have come up in the past 24 hours that make me doubt the Bears' ability to evaluate talent on the offensive side of the ball.
Snippet one: Desmond Clark was talking on the radio last night while I was driving home from work. He was asked many questions about the various quarterbacks he's played with over his career. One thing he said really caught my attention. When asked what the difference was between the balls thrown by Rex Grossman and Brian Griese, he said they're about the same. He said the quarterback on the Bears who throws the hardest is Kyle Orton. I believe the exact quote was, "You have no choice but to catch the ball it comes at you so hard."
I noticed that Orton was throwing harder during preseason this year. He looks trimmer, he still has the same poise he showed his rookie year, and he's throwing bullets for strikes to his receivers. So why isn't he at least the number two quarterback for the Bears? This comes from the Bears' website. It's an article by Larry Mayer from September 27th:
"[Ron] Turner is confident that Grossman will perform well if needed."
"'I think Rex is going to sit back and take a little time and continue to prepare,' said the offensive coordinator. 'He's a professional. He's got a lot of class. He'll do the right thing, and when called upon, he'll be ready to go.'"
Good call, Ron. *I* saw Rex doing the right thing Sunday night. He really looked like he was getting himself ready to go in case Brian Griese went down. I hope you were watching your own sideline Sunday night, Ron. It looked like Rex was listening to his iPod and goofing off while Greise, Orton, and Pep Hamilton were in huddle after huddle throughout the game. Not only has Grossman not improved over the past two seasons, he's shown NO CLASS on the sideline after being benched! He's not even paying attention to the game!
And you're telling us he's going to be ready to go if Griese gets injured? No way. If you really believe that, Ron, you need to retire from coaching. Now. It's time to abandon the good ship Grossman. Tug it out into the middle of Lake Michigan and scuttle it. Please.
I would give the Bears credit for benching Grossman, but it had to be done to save the season. Now, will the front office have the stones to go the extra mile and ship Grossman off to a team that is desperate for a QB? I doubt it. Even though there are plenty of teams with QB woes this year, and the Bears might actually get something worthwhile out of a trade. Jerry Angelo doesn't want to admit that he made a mistake drafting Grossman. And he'd rather let the Bears go down in flames before he'd let Bears fans know that he's really human after all.
Snippet two: Gale Sayers gave an interview about his new book Sayers: My Life and Times. In the story, dated October 12th, Lacy J. Banks of the Sun Times quotes Sayers as saying: "'I saw Benson play seven times in college, and I thought he was the real deal,' Sayers said. 'They teamed Benson with Thomas Jones, who beat him out for the starting position. But now Benson is the starter by default. He didn't play his way into it, and that's unfortunate because Benson's not there yet.'" Thank you, Mr. Sayers, for revealing something so disturbing to me that it's going to deprive me of sleep for the rest of the season!
Is he saying the Bears don't really evaluate their talent on offense? So the answer to the question, "Why did the Bears ship Thomas Jones to New York and anoint Cedric Benson their starter?" Is this: "Because Cedric Benson is being paid the big money?" I guess the Bears in their wisdom decided they shouldn't be paying two players to be the featured back. So, they chose the younger back with the bigger paycheck without considering what they were giving up.
Can we apply the same logic to Grossman? I think so. During the off-season, Bears fans heard lots of rumors about Orton out-performing Griese and both Griese and Orton doing better than Grossman. But Grossman is getting paid to be the starter; therefore, he's the Bears starter. I guess Griese, who's a seasoned veteran with a very adequate career QB rating; and Orton, who scratched tooth and nail to get his team into the playoffs his rookie season, were just taking up space... Until Grossman performed so badly that his team was almost knocked out of contention in the fifth week of the season.
I know I'm taking two unrelated items here and trying to draw a line between them, but I think it's fairly obvious the Bears are having trouble evaluating talent on the offensive side of the ball. Three weeks into the season, Grossman looked worse than ever. He was benched. Fine. Good move. Five weeks into the season, Benson looks like a bust. On the other hand, (the Bears') Adrian Peterson is averaging over four yards per carry. (Which is one yard per carry more than Benson is averaging.) Why is Benson starting? Because he's getting paid to, I suppose.
Sayers says Benson was anointed the starter without really earning it, and boy it sure looks like he's right. I think the same goes for Grossman. So, I guess I should amend my earlier comment about the Bears not being able to evaluate offensive talent. It's not necessarily that they can't do it; it's just that they won't do it.
The Bears still have a chance to correct these mistakes. Trade Grossman, he's had enough chances in Chicago. Bench Benson, he's not ready to start. In the future, hold tryouts for the various positions on the team and start the player who performs the best in the tryouts! Duh.