|Bears' Grossman having trouble shedding inconsistent ways|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 17 September 2007 13:40|
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -Maybe everything will change this week. Maybe Rex Grossman will finally find the consistency the Chicago Bears have been craving and silence that serenade of boos at Soldier Field.|
For now, coach Lovie Smith is preaching patience.
While Cedric Benson perked up and ran for 101 yards, Grossman was mediocre again on Sunday, throwing two interceptions in the second half of Chicago's 20-10 victory over Kansas City. If he has improved from last season, the strides are not obvious.
``I don't think you make any calls based on what you've done after two games,'' Smith said on Monday. ``I think you need to go into the first quarter (of the season) a little bit. I think from the first to the second game, hopefully, you can see some improvement then. It doesn't always work that way. We are taking steps. ... I say give us a little more time. Hopefully, it'll be this week.''
All through training camp, the Bears gushed about their offense.
That confidence was based on the belief that a veteran offensive line would continue to rank among the league's best, that Benson would show he's ready to carry the rushing load, and that Grossman would be more consistent. After all, he now had a full season as a starter, after being riddled by injuries, and a deep set of receivers.
Veteran Muhsin Muhammad was coming off a solid season, and speedy Bernard Berrian had a breakout year. Mark Bradley was healthy after missing five games with an ankle injury, and Devin Hester was in the mix. The Bears also had two pass-catching threats at tight end, with rookie Greg Olsen joining Desmond Clark.
But visions of a more open offense remain just that - visions.
Muhammad, who has been bothered a bit by a sore ankle the past few weeks, has just two catches, although Smith insisted that has no bearing on his production. Bradley has not caught a pass. Olsen missed the first two games with a sprained knee but might be ready for this week's game against Dallas.
``We're excited to finally get Greg Olsen,'' Smith said, before backing off slightly. ``Maybe I jumped the a little bit there. Hopefully, we'll be able to get Greg Olsen going this week.''
There have been breakdowns on the line. Receivers have struggled to get open. And Grossman hasn't helped the cause.
It adds up to an offense that ranks 30th, and it helps explain why a team that tied for fourth in the NFL with a plus-eight turnover ratio last season has given the ball away seven times. Grossman has three interceptions and one touchdown to go with 305 yards. Certainly not what the Bears had in mind.
``We're just not there,'' Smith said. ``It's still early in the year. We made progress offensively this past week, getting our running game going. The next phase will be to bring the passing game along.''
Grossman was good enough in the first half against Kansas City, completing 13 of 20 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown, but he showed his bad side in the second half, helping the Chiefs hang around. He threw for just 40 yards, was 7-of-14 and got intercepted twice.
And he gave the Chiefs a golden opportunity to get back into the game in the fourth quarter.
The Bears were leading 20-10 when Donnie Edwards intercepted Grossman at the 43 and returned the ball to the Chicago 25 with 9:15 remaining. The threat died three plays later, when Chicago's Charles Tillman deflected a pass intended for Sammie Parker in the end zone. Danieal Manning intercepted it and the Bears held on.
``I got to see (Edwards),'' Grossman said. ``I got to understand where he's at and where he can possibly cover in that coverage. It was my fault, but thank God we got a great defense to bail me out.''
It wasn't just the defense. Devin Hester did his part.
The San Diego Chargers avoided him at all costs in Week 1 and beat the Bears 14-3, while the Chiefs went at Hester. Big mistake.
He showed again how dangerous he is, returning a punt 73 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to extend the lead to 14-0 and set up a field goal in the third with another impressive return. He also ran a kickoff back 95 yards to the end zone, only to have it negated by a holding penalty.
The touchdown return was the seventh for Hester, who set an NFL record with six as a rookie and is now within one of Gale Sayers' team mark.
``Devin Hester, the first game, didn't have the production he had returning kicks,'' Smith said. ``Hopefully, we took a step with that.''
Now, he hopes the offense takes a similar step.
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