Bears bench QB Grossman, turn to Griese

Updated: September 26, 2007, 5:59 PM ET
Associated Press

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Brian Griese is in. Rex Grossman is out.

Yet, despite numbers indicating the Chicago Bears needed to make a change with their starting quarterback, when it finally happened the news jarred Grossman.

He used words like "surprised" and "frustration" to describe his feelings when he learned Griese would be calling signals Sunday at Detroit.

"The frustrating part is I know this offense is close to getting in a rhythm and clicking, and I just wish I could have been the one pulling the trigger," Grossman said Wednesday afternoon, hours after the Bears announced the change.

At 1-2 and with the league's 30th-ranked offense, the defending NFC champions need to do something different. So they turned to Griese, a Pro Bowl pick with Denver in 2000.

"I'm excited for Brian," coach Lovie Smith said. "He brings a lot of experience. He's been a loyal soldier in a backup role up to this point. He's anxious to go. Our team will back him 100 percent like they did Rex, and hopefully, we can get this thing going in the right direction.

"Of course, decisions like this aren't made overnight. I've looked at a pattern of our play and the play at the quarterback position."

Whether this is the end for the 27-year-old Grossman in Chicago or just a temporary switch after several rough outings remains to be seen.

Currently, he ranks 24th in the NFL with 500 yards, has a 45.2 rating and is 47-of-89 (52.8 percent) He has six interceptions and one touchdown and got picked off three times in last week's 34-10 loss to Dallas.

Grossman's contract expires after this season.

"As far as week to week, no. We don't do things that way," Smith said. "Rex wasn't under week to week: 'I have to play a certain way or I'll lose my job.' I always let a player play for a period of time to show us exactly what we are. That's how we'll look at it from here on.

"Brian is our quarterback. The starting rotation has been established now."

A 10-year veteran, the 32-year-old Griese has passed for 16,564 yards with 104 touchdowns and 80 interceptions and a 63 percent completion rate. He was a starter with the Broncos, Miami and Tampa Bay, but all three teams released him.

"First and foremost, as an offense we have to step up," Griese said. "I think that playing offense is an attitude, and I think since I've been here, the offense has been kind of second-class citizens. Hopefully I can bring a little bit of energy and enthusiasm to our huddle and to our game.

"I will be prepared, I am going to work hard, and I will compete on Sundays."

Griese made it clear when the Bears signed him before last season he wanted to start. On Sunday, in Detroit, he gets his chance.

Tight end Desmond Clark praised Griese for his "calm demeanor."

"What you guys see every day is what Brian brings to the huddle," said Clark, Griese's teammate in Denver. "He's calm. He's a real confident guy."

The Bears believed with a full season as a starter and with a deep set of receivers, Grossman would find the consistency he lacked last season.

Instead, last year's NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September was neither impressive nor inspiring.

"I've been where Rex is," Griese said. "I had a candid conversation with him about that, too. I have a lot of respect for Rex and the way that he's handled it. He has every right to be upset and angry, but he has no animosity, which I really respect him for."

Grossman certainly isn't the only one to blame for the offensive struggles, but he caught the brunt of it from fans.

An aging line that has ranked among the league's best in recent years has shown more holes; Cedric Benson has just 189 yards and is averaging 3.2 per carry.

That deep set of receivers?

Two-time Pro Bowl pick Muhsin Muhammad has been a non-factor with four catches for 36 yards. He seemed to stop short on a deep route over the middle, resulting in an interception during the Dallas game, and a wide-open Bernard Berrian dropped what looked like a 35-yard touchdown.

In the past, the Bears could count on a dominant defense to bail them out, but that group is battered by injuries.

"I think we have talent on offense," Griese said. "I think we have the ability to score points and we will score points. I'm going to work as hard as I can to allow us to be in the right position, put our team in position to make plays."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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