Watching replays of fullback Jason McKie being stacked up in the backfield, you couldn't help but wonder if the play would have been a success with ex-Bears tight end John Gilmore on the field.
That's because rookie tight end Kellen Davis whiffed on his block of Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis on fourth-and-one from the 50-yard line Sunday. Thomas Davis came across his face and was in the backfield almost instantly as Kellen Davis was slow reacting out of his stance.
That's what the veteran Gilmore was best known for when he was here, blocking. It's what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought him on board for, too. The difference in Gilmore wearing a Bucs uniform Sunday at Soldier Field and a Bears uniform came down to a few hundred thousand dollars.
Gilmore, a seven-year veteran, was seeking some security and wasn't interested in giving a hometown discount. Tampa Bay offered him $1 million to sign in a $3 million, three-year contract. It wound up topping the Bears' offer by $235,000. The difference was the Bucs are paying him a base salary of $750,000 this season followed by $ 1million next year and $1.25 million in 2010. The Bears' offer also had a $1 million signing bonus but they only wanted to pay minimums when it came to his base salary and that's where the difference was.
Gilmore says things are a little more quiet living in Florida, but he says it's a high-character locker room like he was used to here and the transition has been as seamless as one can be for a vet.
"The guys are great," he said. "I got real lucky when it came to that. Everybody on the team is cool and it's a real similar locker room."
Gilmore had a career-long 36-yard catch on a seam route on Sunday against the Falcons and also hauled in a five-yard touchdown pass, the fourth of his career. He credits all the work he did on the scout team with the Bears the past two seasons in catching passes from Brian Griese to his sudden success in the passing game.
"I just don't want to John to get too confused in his role,'' Bucs coach Jon Gruden joked, insinuating Gilmore is there to block. "He's done a great job for us. He's a very good blocker, he's a good receiver and just a great team guy. He's helped us on special teams and he's been a real great addition to this football team."
A Q&A with Gilmore:
WAS BRIAN GRIESE THE BEST QUARTERBACK ON THE BEARS IN 2007?
"I don't think Griese really ever got a shot. They wanted him to be the backup quarterback and that's how it went down. It's kind of hard to judge when you have a starter taking starter reps vs. a guy that comes in. Griese has always played well in my eyes. The only reason I say that is me and him got all the work against the No. 1's and serviced the defense. I've always been a Griese fan.''
ARE YOU AT ALL SURPRISED HE'S PASSED UP JEFF GARCIA SO QUICKLY?
"Brian is a good quarterback. Let's not forget about what he did in Denver. Even when he was down here before, he was the starter and he did well."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT GRIESE AS A QUARTERBACK?
"My biggest thing with Griese is the way he maintains the huddle. He has great poise and there is a certain swagger about him. In the huddle, he makes sure you know what you're doing. If you don't he makes sure you do. That's what you want."
WHAT ABOUT THE QUARTERBACKS HERE? ARE YOU SURPRISED HOW IT WENT DOWN THIS SUMMER?
"I like Rex [Grossman] for his deep ball. Man, you've got to like the guy for that. I thought Kyle [Orton] had more of an upside to him. When he was young he won, what, 10 games for us? After that season the guy never got another shot. You've got to get in games. You can't tell in practice if a guy can do it. He never got that next shot, so from an upside standpoint Kyle definitely would have been my guy. Rex had his shot there and he's a good quarterback. I think they were finally like, `Let's give this kid (Orton) a shot and go in a different direction.'"