Bears look to spark offense with QB Brian Griese against Lions Print
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Thursday, 27 September 2007 12:56
NFL Headline News

 DETROIT (AP) -The Chicago Bears decided they could not overlook Rex Grossman's shortcomings anymore, benching the 2003 first-round pick in favor of 10-year veteran Brian Griese.
After playing with Griese at Michigan a decade ago, Detroit Lions offensive tackle Jeff Backus understands why Chicago made the move.
Backus said Griese brings ``poise'' and ``intelligence'' to the field and recalled him as a senior being very demanding, especially with then-freshmen linemen such as himself and Steve Hutchinson.
``I didn't like him much as a teammate. He was tough on young guys,'' Backus said. ``It was a good thing, not a negative thing; we ended up winning a national championship.
``He took control of that offense.''
Chicago is hoping Griese does the same with its 30th-ranked offense.
Even though Grossman was the No. 1 quarterback for the Bears en route to the Super Bowl last season, his lackluster arm and decision making led many in the Windy City to call for a change.
``I have never seen a player go through as much as Rex Grossman had to go through here,'' said coach Lovie Smith, who chose to make the QB switch. ``Just constant criticism, it seemed like no matter what he did.
``That's why taking a step back isn't all bad for him to let him get out of that fire for a little while. It's easy to blame the quarterback. Now, we will get a chance to see exactly what we are. Rex won't get the blame.''
The Lions (2-1) hope to show the Bears (1-2) and all those watching that they are now an NFC North contender, and no longer the NFL's laughingstock.
Detroit also wants to prove last week's embarrassment, a 56-21 loss at Philadelphia, was an aberration and not a hint of what's to come for a team coming off six straight seasons with at least 10 losses.
``We're not going to get into that here-we-go mode,'' Lions running back Kevin Jones said.
If the Bears beat Detroit it will not alarm quarterback Jon Kitna, who has garnered a lot of attention for saying he would be disappointed if the Lions didn't win at least 10 games.
``It's a big game, but it's not the end-all,'' Kitna insisted. ``If we win it, nobody is going to say the Bears are done. If we don't win, we can't listen to anyone who wants to bury us.''
As if Bears linebacker Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher is not motivated enough, Detroit receiver Roy Williams seems to have provided added incentive for the opposition with his words.
Again.
Williams guaranteed the Lions would win last year at Chicago with an offense capable of scoring 40 points, only to lose 34-7.
``He says something every year, and every year we beat him,'' said Urlacher, who has helped Chicago beat Detroit four straight times. ``They're supposed to win 10 games this year. They were this close to scoring 40 points last year - they had seven.
``I like talk as much as everybody else, but at least if you're going to say something, say something close to the truth.''
Perhaps taking a cue from Williams, receiver Muhsin Muhammad said the Bears will have a lot of opportunities for success against the NFL's 30th-ranked defense that ranks 31st against the pass.
``As I look at this game and break down the matchups offensively we have a really big opportunity here,'' Muhammad said. ``A chance to get us back on track, a chance to re-establish our identity, our fire.''
That seems to be the kind of attitude Griese likes in Chicago's huddle.
``We have guys that are ready to compete, ready to go out there and do something about the situation that we're in,'' he said. ``We have to get back to remembering why it is that we play the game. We play the game because we love it. We play the game to win. That's what binds all of us together.''
Both teams might be missing key players.
Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs (hamstring) and defensive tackle Tommie Harris (knee) - both Pro Bowl players - along with starting cornerbacks Nathan Vasher (groin) and Charles Tillman (ankle) were among the many uncertainties.
Kitna expects the banged-up Bears to play well, even if they're missing a key player such as Harris.
``They lost him last year, too, and they went all the way to the Super Bowl, so I don't know how much it hurts,'' Kitna said.
The Lions' pass-happy offense might take a hit if rookie receiver Calvin Johnson (rib) can't play after scoring in his first two games before getting hurt at Philadelphia. Backus (rib), guard Damien Woody (rib) and defensive end Kalimba Edwards (ankle) are other Lions dealing with injuries.
 

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