'What worse can he go through in this town?' Print
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Monday, 24 September 2007 04:32
NFL Headline News

 CHICAGO (AP) -Anthony Henry tied for second on the Bears' receivers list and had the only touchdown.
Unfortunately, he plays cornerback for the Cowboys.
So stop me if you've heard this before:
``Rex Grossman is our quarterback,'' Chicago coach Lovie Smith said after Dallas mugged the Bears 34-10 Sunday night.
Lousy quarterbacks are a given with the Bears, who have endured nearly 60 years of frustration since Sid Luckman left town. But even that doesn't completely explain the coaching staff's loyalty to the undersized passer with the underwhelming arm and the mobility of a skyscraper.
It was one thing when Smith stuck with Grossman last season, when the Bears covered for their erratic passer with a stingy, opportunistic defense, timely touchdowns from kick-returner Devin Hester and went to the Super Bowl. But they're 1-2 in this campaign and falling faster than one of Grossman's floaters.
If the loss of four Pro Bowl players - three on defense- by the end of the Dallas game didn't instill a sense of urgency, well, there's Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to remind them of what they're missing.
Grossman attempted 32 passes and completed 15, not counting the two picked off by Henry and a third by safety Roy Williams. Afterward, Grossman said most of the same things he's said each time his quarterback rating - 27.5 on this night - fails to exceed the dinner tab for a family of four at one of Soldier Field's concession stands: He needs to stop trying to make hero plays.
``Their defensive corner hugged up on the outside receiver and I thought I could get a corner (throw) in behind his head,'' he glumly acknowledged. ``It kind of floated short.''
Other than his coaches and teammates, it's hard to imagine anyone believes Grossman is capable of changing. He's certainly not going to get taller - the Bears' media guide generously lists him at 6-foot-1, still too short to see over onrushing linemen - and he'll never be quick-footed enough to buy time in the pocket. The start against the Cowboys was only his 26th, but that's because Grossman was hurt for much of his five-year stay in Chicago. So there's little hope he'll study his way of this jam, either.
For the moment, though, Grossman appears to have all the support he needs to keep his job.
``What worse can he go through in this town?'' Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. ``The guy went through it all last year, and I'm sure he's going to go through it again this year.
``I'm sure he'll come back and get through it,'' he added, ``but it can't get any worse than that.''
Grossman has had worse games, but nothing like the one Romo pieced together after a slow start. Romo has been in Dallas for the same five seasons, but unlike Grossman, a first-round choice from a powerhouse Florida program, he arrived there as an undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois.
Romo got his chance when Drew Bledsoe played his way into then-coach Bill Parcells' doghouse, and his time watching was well spent. While Romo had trouble adjusting to the Bears' relentless blitzing early in the game, he never got flustered or forced throws.
And by the second half, sidestepping one defender after another without leaving the pocket, he began to find the range. He finished a quietly efficient 22-of-35 for 329 yards with two touchdowns. All that talk about Romo being unable to post big numbers against a defense as good as Chicago's turned out to be just that.
``They gave Tony some fits,'' Terrell Owens said. ``They bring a heck of pass rush and Tony was able to escape and use his ability to get out of some of those jams and find some open guys down the field.''
Owens had little to say about Romo's opposite, but when the boo birds started in on Grossman in earnest in the third quarter, he cupped his hand behind his right ear, pretending he was having a hard time hearing them.
Not so with Smith, who acknowledged afterward, ``I know he's going to take a lot of the blame. But we all take a lot of the blame.''
At the same time, Smith didn't hide his admiration for the way Romo patiently picked his team apart. Asked what impressed him most, Smith replied, ``the way he avoided pressure and got the ball off.
``I knew that coming in,'' he added. ``But he was even more impressive in person.''
The only reason there hasn't been much of a quarterback controversy in Chicago - yet - is because the last time backup Brian Griese turned up in a regular-season game was New Year's Eve and he went 5-for-15 in relief with two interceptions.
``I can relate to any quarterback that takes criticism and has people talking about him,'' Romo said. ``I think Rex is a fine player. It's just difficult. This city and some cities across the league and really, Dallas is the same way.
He's really in a tough position because he has such a great defense that you're almost asked not to lose the game. And I think that's very difficult way to play quarterback,'' Romo added, ``I really do.''
Apparently he's not the only one.
---
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitkeap.org
 

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