Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
    Nick is offline Superbowl MVP
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Morgantown, WV
    Age
    31
    Posts
    19,474
    Rep Power
    154

    Rex, Bears have off-season to-do list

    Rex, Bears have off-season to-do list
    David Haugh
    Published February 6, 2007

    Perhaps Peyton Manning taught the Bears their biggest lesson on Sunday from the podium and not the pocket.

    It came after Manning had demonstrated in the Colts' 29-17 Super Bowl victory how a quarterback could shred the Cover-2 by taking the short completion if the defense takes away the deep ones.

    This was after the Colts' quarterback studied the cracks in the Bears' single-gap run defense like a football seismologist and called running plays at the line of scrimmage that only made them wider.

    This was as Manning credited persistence more than precision for coach Tony Dungy's team prevailing after four seasons in which the Colts averaged 12 wins but had nothing to show for it other than a few cool commercials.

    "[Dungy] had a lot of good speeches after some of those playoff losses when most guys can hardly say anything and it's hard to hold your head up," Manning recalled. "I can remember after all those losses he said, 'We're going to work in March and we're going to be better for this.' It's hard to believe a man when he says that, but you do believe him."

    They are words to live by for the Bears, who really have no other choice.

    Just as the Colts borrowed the Bears' formula on the field to beat them on Sunday, the Bears and Lovie Smith must copy the Colts' approach off of it to return. Winning a championship requires a process and the Bears have to constantly remind themselves that finishing as the Super Bowl runner-up was part of that.

    Pouting serves little purpose. Overreacting does no good. The Colts proved they were the better football team across both lines of scrimmage and at the skill positions. Anybody arguing that point watched too much of Prince and not enough football on Sunday.

    Only because of fluky circumstances more than force did the Bears still have a chance to steal a Super Bowl with 12 minutes left in the game when Rex Grossman made a bad decision that resulted in the game-changing 56-yard interception return for a TD by Kelvin Hayden.

    The Bears still can make consecutive trips to the Super Bowl like New England last did in 2003 and '04. The schedule toughens, but not enough to make 12 wins inconceivable.

    But it will take an honest self-evaluation of key personnel such as Grossman, a significant financial investment to retain players like Lance Briggs and important members of the coaching staff, and a level-headed approach to the success they just enjoyed.

    Start with Grossman. Sometime after the draft, when all other issues have been resolved, the team and Grossman's agent, Eugene Parker, likely will discuss a contract extension. Neither Grossman nor the Bears really prefer for the quarterback to enter the final year of his deal in 2007, but both sides have compelling reasons to change their minds.

    Grossman might be so fed up with his treatment in Chicago that he would be willing to test the open market in 2008 and gamble that in his second season as a starter he will enjoy a more consistent and potentially Pro Bowl-caliber year. The Bears might have had their concerns over making a long-term commitment to Grossman reinforced by a forgettable fourth quarter against the Colts in the biggest game of his life.

    Giving Grossman a show of no-confidence this off-season would enter dangerous territory for the Bears. As much as Grossman's mistakes contributed to the Bears' undoing in the Super Bowl, his achievements made it possible for them to get there.

    He had a lousy Super Bowl. He had a promising season.

    Now is no time for the Bears to abandon Grossman; now is the time to improve him. Stop treating Grossman like a finished product, a seven-year veteran with Pro Bowl experience, and start shaping him into a likeness where the most distinguishable trait isn't a negative one. Develop him.

    Smith and offensive coordinator Ron Turner must figure out why Grossman suffers mental lapses in fourth quarters. Clutch fourth-quarter drives against Minnesota and New Orleans stood out perhaps because they showed Grossman excelling at a time of the game he usually didn't.

    During the regular season, Grossman was ranked 38th in fourth-quarter passer rating (43.9) because he threw five interceptions—one every 14.6 attempts. In the playoffs, throwing in the fourth quarter became even riskier for the Bears; Grossman threw three picks in 32 attempts—one every 10.7 attempts.

    Increasing Grossman's mobility and demanding he roll out more or—gasp—even run the ball on occasion would improve his efficiency and the offense overall. Use the off-season to make Grossman quicker and trimmer, if necessary. The Bears also need to make hard decisions at the safety position. The lack of an impact player at that spot against an elite quarterback like Manning hurt the Bears. Maybe Mike Brown will return to form, but can the Bears count on that? If a veteran who can compete for a job appeals to the Bears on the free-agent market, it might be wise to invest.

    Drafting at the bottom of the first round gives the Bears an opportunity to select a young offensive lineman even if they add an interested free agent such as Bengals free-agent guard-tackle Eric Steinbach, a Providence High School product. If the Bears change course and don't lock up Briggs by sticking the franchise tag on him, the best outside linebacker on the board would be a wise pick too.

    Whether Cedric Benson sprained his knee or not in the Super Bowl, keeping Thomas Jones still seems smarter than trading him and turning over the keys to the running game to an unproven guy full of more potential than production like Benson.

    Improving the run defense embarrassed by the Colts comes down to more practice than personnel. The Bears missed as many tackles against the Colts as they did in any other game this season. But the defense isn't changing schemes.

    Such an overreaction would be letting one loss weigh more heavily than 15 wins this season and 26 over the last two. That would be an error in judgment. The team that turned in one of the worst Super Bowl performances in recent memory Sunday night was still a good football team—just not the best.

    As much as any team, the Colts can relate. And maybe one day soon, if the Bears heed Manning's words, they will know how the Colts feel too.


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
    laram0 is offline Superbowl MVP
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Age
    57
    Posts
    9,218
    Rep Power
    108

    Re: Rex, Bears have off-season to-do list

    As long as Grossman has Lovie's support....He should stay put.

    Where else would he go and start every game?

  3. #3
    general counsel's Avatar
    general counsel is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    atlanta, georgia
    Age
    52
    Posts
    5,605
    Rep Power
    82

    Re: Rex, Bears have off-season to-do list

    The bears run defense will look a lot better when they get tommie harris back. I cant believe how little that has been mentioned. a pro bowl defensive tackle is a big key to any run defense, or lack thereof as in the case of the rams.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •