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Bears bench Grossman in favor of Griese

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."