Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, Feb. 13: The final time we look at Rex vs. Kyle

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Delayed by some of the first news the Bears have made in a while, here is our final Four Down Territory for the week.

Q: Perhaps the most controversial argument amongst Bears fans seems to have been Rex Grossman vs. Kyle Orton heading into 2008. There are plenty of Orton haters as well as those who seem to be glad to give Rex the boot. Many fans still clamor for Grossman, making claims that the Bears will live to regret letting him go. What's your position on this issue? Are there teams indicating an interest in Rex? Do you think releasing Rex will become another poor personnel decision by the Bears current regime?

Dave, Parts Unknown

A: First, we pledge this will be the final Grossman vs. Orton question we take, for a long while any way.

Second, the Bears are not letting Grossman go. This is a common misconception. Grossman becomes an unrestricted free agent Feb. 27 and there is nothing the Bears can do to prevent him from attaining this status short of placing the franchise or transition tag on him. The Bears are not releasing Grossman, waiving him, cutting him, throwing him out or evicting him. He is going to be a free agent.

Third, even if the Bears desired to retain Grossman, what in the world at this point would lead him to want to return? You know, besides nothing. His camp doesn't believe he received a fair shake at the job last year but that neither here nor there for them now. It's time for him to move on and he's smart enough to know a change of scenery, change of coaching staffs and completely new setting is the best thing for him.

It looked like a fresh start was something Grossman would have benefitted from a year ago but he assessed the market and determined coming back to the Bears was the best chance he had at earning a starting job. If hindsight were 20-20, no doubt he would have gone out on the market. Grossman's ship has sailed with the Bears, I don't know how many other ways to convey this. If Grossman's departure becomes a "poor personnel decision'' there will be something worse--a clear signal the Bears couldn't develop Grossman. That is where the failure will lie.


Q: When looking at the free agent class of wide receivers, one name interests me a lot and that is Nate Washington. He is a young guy just entering his fourth season. He has displayed the ability to make plays downfield. He has shown that he can play in bad weather on poor field conditions in Pittsburgh which is similar to Chicago. I think he is very similar to Bernard Berrian only we won't have to spend as much to get him. I think that it's time to stop spending our money on veteran receivers who have already peaked and start spending that money on young guys like Washington who have a ton of upside. What do you think of the possibility of Washington starting opposite Devin Hester next year?

Super Bowl Shuffler, Parts Unknown

A: You make an interesting comparison to Berrian and Washington is a deep threat with speed who has made some big plays in four seasons in Pittsburgh, not missing a game the last three years. The Steelers are generally pretty good judges of talent and they used a first-round pick on Santonio Holmes in 2006 and then took Limas Sweed in the second round last year, putting the squeeze on Washington, who was an undrafted free agent in 2005 from Tiffin, a small school in Ohio where he holds numerous records.

Washington posted career highs this past season with 40 receptions for 631 yards and has averaged 16.4 yards per reception in his career. The Bears have a vertical threat in Hester and might be better served to discover a big playmaker. Here is what we wrote about Washington in our Jan. 9 entry on free-agent wide receivers:

"Nate Washington's name has been thrown out there. He made 40 receptions for 631 yards and three touchdowns this season for Pittsburgh. Here's the issue with Washington--he's been a role player for the Steelers. Washington made one start this season and has seven over the last three years. The problem teams can run into when they pay a No. 3 wideout from another organization to be a No. 2 wideout is they pay No. 2 money and get the same No. 3 production. That's not to say Washington could not provide a downfield threat for the Bears, or any other team, but you have to be careful when projecting players into larger roles than they have performed."


Q: With the attention of Bears fans focused on the quarterback position and clear indications that Kyle Orton is the man for 2009, I'd like your take on the 2010 quarterback free agent market. One name that jumps out is Philip Rivers. Do you think that the Bears would have a shot to get him and how would he fit in their system? Other names of interest: Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Jason Campbell. I know this is looking way ahead, but I'm not quite sold on Orton yet.

Scott, Sleepy Hollow, Ill.

A: You're looking ahead? You're dreaming too. This is Valentine's Day weekend, not Christmas. Rivers would be a terrific fit but there is no way San Diego does not lock him up longterm. The Chargers have already started the process with the former No. 4 overall pick heading into the final year of his contract. The Giants are also expected to step up with a contract for Manning that could top $100 million in total value. Roethlisberger pulled down a $102 million contract with $36 million guaranteed last March. Campbell is as equally unproven as Orton but this sure gives you an idea what top quarterbacks cost, doesn't it?


Q: I believe the main problem with the Bears offense lies with their wide receivers, with the exception of Devin Hester, gaining separation from cornerbacks. What have you heard or expect the Bears front office to do this offseason in addressing the position? Although I'm not a huge advocate of bringing in a headache like Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson something has to be done. That's the only way we can determine if Kyle Orton is truly the answer, by giving him weapons to succeed.

Steve K., New York

A: There's no question the wide receivers performed poorly during much of the 2008 season. Hester made real improvements in the second half and should be more productive given more time to work with Orton. The club took a step toward getting more explosive receivers on the field when it released veteran Marty Booker Friday, clearing a path for third-round pick Earl Bennett to get on the field. The Bears called him a starting-caliber receiver when they drafted him and, well, they're in need of one. He'll get a look and more help should be on the way but I wouldn't hold out hope for Owens or Johnson.

Thanks for all the participation and thanks for reading as always. We'll look to cover the bases on some other issues this weekend and get back into another Four Down Territory on Monday.

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23 Comments

That's the problem with most football fans, a lot of people still think the biggest issue with the Bear's offense is the WR! How many times do I have to say it. The WR position is OVERRATED(and I loved Curtis Conway)! How many more games would we have won if we had two top ALL-Pro WRs? None. Look at week two against the Panthers, Rasheed Davis was wide open on 3rd down late in the game and Orton overthrew him by 10 yards. That gave the Panthers the ball and they marched it down field and scored to beat us. That same thing happened a week later against the Bucs. How does a WR help that? Its like Mr. Angelo said, it starts with the QB, not the WR.

If you want to give Orton weapons as Steve K. from New York suggests, than build an awesome O-line and draft a winning QB. We have good RBs with Forte and Peterson. Look at the undefeated Patriots in 2007. How did they lose the SuperBowl? The O-line was beat in the 4th quarter; after the QB, the offensive line is the next most important position on the offense.

If our QB can't develop, and I believe Orton can't, then hire someone who has a histroy of finding talented QBs in the draft and get him started looking(the former GM of the Packers would be a good start). Second, hire someone who has a histroy of developing QBs into All-Pros, and get him on board. Finally, continue drafting and building an awesome offensive line and that, along with Matt Forte, will probably be a good formula to a good offense.

The Carinals have THREE great WRs and still lost the SuperBowl. LT Gandy three holding calls and the right side struggled to protect a QB that could have/should have been wearing a Bears' uniform a few seasons ago.

All-Pro WRs are nice "weapons" to have on any team, however, those "weapons" don't mean a darn thing if your QB can't make plays or is being sacked. Start with the QB and then go to the O-Line!!!

I also want to take this time to wish Mike Brown the best for the rest of his career. You have been my favorite Bear for the last nine years and I will miss you and your leadership. Please, come back and coach for us down the road. Thanks for everything...coach!

Q: With the attention of Bears fans focused on the quarterback position and clear indications that Kyle Orton is the man for 2009, I'd like your take on the 2010 quarterback free agent market. One name that jumps out is Philip Rivers. Do you think that the Bears would have a shot to get him and how would he fit in their system? Other names of interest: Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Jason Campbell. I know this is looking way ahead, but I'm not quite sold on Orton yet.

Scott, Sleepy Hollow, Ill.

A: You're looking ahead? You're dreaming too. This is Valentine's Day weekend, not Christmas.

Hahahahahaha.

Thanks.
No More REX. I am going to hold your word on that.

Another question about the wide receiver situation. During the past season it was apparent to everyone, and hopefully that included the coaching staff, that our WR's were not performing at "top tier" level. Everyone understood that Booker, Lloyd, and maybe Davis would not be back in 2009. I am really puzzled that - given that scenario - the coaches kept playing those guys instead of getting their younger guys into action to see what they might have to offer. Guys like Bennett, Hass, Rideau. Granted, they might have stumbled, but they might have flashed some brilliance too. You never know about a guy until you put him on the field. That seemed like such a logical thing to do - but didn't play out that way - that I'm thinking I must be missing something. Why didn't we do that? Do you have some thoughts?

I know Mike Brown has been injured, but why not bring him back for one year at a bargain price so there is atleast some depth at the safety position. He also brings that leadership role to a team that former Bear Ayanbadejo said was lacking in that department. He has been the heart and soul of this Bear team ever since he was drafted in 2000 regardless of being injured or not. Angelo is making himself look like a genius once again by cutting a key veteran and taking this team into Free Agency with a million holes to fill! Now we can feel confident with Payne, McGowan, Steltz and Manning! C'mon ANGELO! WAKE UP!!!

Neither the management nor fans gave Grossman a fair shake. Orton is a good back-up, but Rex is the best option for becoming a Super Bowl winner. Of course both need an offensive line that protects and receivers that can get separation and then not drop balls. I think coaching of the receivers has been poor. They blow routes,stop trying for separation,and then catch with their chests rather than hands,too often dropping easy catches.First downs get blown because of that, and then the defense gets tired out.I certainly agree that Rex would be foolish to come back to the Bears, although I would love to see him return and force the boo-birds to acknowledge their stupidity. He will be a great quarterback somewhere else and once again validate the Bears' stupidity regarding quarterbacks.

Brad I like your #3 as a #2 logic on the Nate Washington answer, but not your execution. How do you know that Washington, at this stage of his career, is a No. 3? (Let me hasten to add, I don't know either, but that's the point)

The fact is that it takes about as long to develop a productive wide receiver as it does a QB. If you want to spend all day with stats I can show you why I say "fact". Yes there are exceptions, but generally it takes 2-4 years before a young player at either position starts producing at a level they can sustain. That means it is 2-4 years before you really know who they are and can define their ceiling. When I say "you" know, I mean media people like you (ie the few who actually know something). Hopefully the Bears have professional player personnel people who get better odds of predicting a player's ceiling. They'd better. This is one of the bigger years I can remember for needing to pull rabbits out of the hat.


This is why, for example, I keep saying it is way too soon to give up on Earl Bennett.

MsBearsFan, I totally agree with you on Bears receiver Earl Bennett, I also look for Bennett to come on in his second season. As far as anyone who gave up on Bennett, or any other rookie for that matter, they have absolutely no concept of player development, and think every player should be NFL ready straight out of college, and these kind of expectations are a little ridiculous. GO BEARS!!

Look, I have an idea on how we can find out how good both our wide receivers and our cornerbacks really are: Practice jamming receivers at the line! Since our corners don't jam at the line, our receivers never experience it until game day, and then they are thrown completely out of whack. Plus, maybe if the coaches see a cornerback jam in practice, they might, just might, be able to see how effective a simple jam can be and then put it into the gameplan. Just a thought.

What do you see Dan Buenning's role on the team now that he knows the offense? Does he get a legitimate chance to start next year?

Rex Grossman was very similar to Brett Farve in may ways. He was able to throw with precise accuracy, and has a very strong arm, unfortunately the offensive line has let him down on many of the sloppy games that he played in. He will be a Hall of Fame quarterback someday if he ends up with a different team, perhaps Minnesota. He is better than all of the the free agent quarterbacks that where listed available now, and is better than most of the active quarterbacks in this league. The Bears must resign him to at least another year.

Grossman is our man in the middle. Sign him, and sign him quick.

By Kevin Armstead on February 14, 2009 11:31 AM
MsBearsFan, I totally agree with you on Bears receiver Earl Bennett, I also look for Bennett to come on in his second season. As far as anyone who gave up on Bennett, or any other rookie for that matter, they have absolutely no concept of player development, and think every player should be NFL ready straight out of college, and these kind of expectations are a little ridiculous. GO BEARS!!

What are you talking about, I have not seen anyone including myself go after Bennett? I have seen people ask why he was not give a chance to get a couple plays a game considering how bad the WR group was. That is not an indietment of Bennett but rather the coaching staff. You do know that getting a rookie on the field so he can adjust to NFL speed is a major part in there development. I think that has been the big question is why did they not put him the field to help develop him.

He may be another Beekman, but he could also end up like a lot of the Bears WR's. Under developed and under used, and then gone and helping out another team. Think about it how bad was Davis last year? Yet you couldn't find some plays for Bennett in the slot. I am not saying start the guy but get him out there and let him see what it is like, let him get used to Orton and let them develop a little timming. Also ask yourself this. Did Beekman get better sitting on the bench all last season or did he develop after he became a starter because of Metcalf going down. He looked like he developed as the season went along to me in the begining he looked pretty bad but but after starting a dozen games he looked much better. So I think getting on the field and playing is a lot more important than reading your play book over and over again in terms of development.

It's like most sports if tell someone about a sport they have never seen or played there usually like "what?" But let them see it and play it and they pick it up much quicker.

Just as with all the talent that we get, Rex will go to another team and start, and take them to the playoffs...it will be worth letting him go, if we can get rid of Ron Turner, Bob Babich, Jerry Angelo, and Lovie Smith

Rex will have better production with another team and once again the Bears will be shown as an inept team in developing a QB, one of the worst in the history of the NFL with QB development and production.

Jay Lundry has more common sense and some great ideas about finding and grooming a QB? JA didn't your mother tell you that you have two ears and only one mouth so that you should listen twice as much as you talk, so listen to Jay. Also your mother must not have told you that your brain does not function well in a football environment, to many excuses and certainly not enough production!!

What a great idea to release Mike Brown, the best leader and defensive hitter on the team!!! Great move!!!! He could be the coach!! We have huge holes in the safety position, Brown has been productive albeit also injury prone, but certainly productive with over a 100 tackles in 2008. JA please pull your head out of your//// because it seems that rather than progressing, the Bears are starting to regress with you in charge.

Bears don't need no freeking franchise QB, BEars don't need no freekin top level O line, Bears don't need no freeking stud free safety or quality depth at either safety position, Bears don't need no freekin number #1 Wide Receiver, Bears don't need no freeking Coach that can get it done and make half time adjustments, Bears don't need nothing.

JA and Lovie, I am dumbfounded by some of these decisions, I wish that I had more faith in the Bears but seemed to have lost most of my faith with the level of play over the last two years and the poor coaching and GM decisions.

SExy Rexy will be missed! I seriously can't wait for REx to kick Arse once the season starts. I hope to god he goes to the Vikings, would luv to see him throw a bomb to berrian in the bears faces! See who will be laughing last and ohhh my...Jerry might as well commit suicide and the rest of the management. They did a very poor job on developing REx here in Chicago and history still repeats itself once again folks. Qb's are brought in Chicago to rot and feather away...............

Brad,
Not to beat a dead horse, but I guess my last question was way too wordy. The only thing I really wanted to know was, are there any teams showing an interest in signing Rex Grossman? Where do you think he'll wind up and will he have a chance to compete for a starting job? By the way, how's your Golden Tee game?

Thanks,
Dave from Iowa (same state as Kyle Orton)

I think Bennett has a moderately successful year this year. I do not think it is the Bears intention to make him a clear cut starter, but rather just actually give him playing time, so I doubt he blows anything up. His college experience and reputation lend him to the "slot" position, as Bennett was known for his incredible hands, crisp route running and strength/elusiveness to shed initial tacklers (Which is good because while he is not slow, he is not "explosive" from a speed perspective). I think Bennett should be a good, long term addition to the team as a dependable slot guy who can escape the first man on him to pick up some extra yards.

I also believe that Hester becomes an 800+ yard receiver next year, depending on him getting the ball of course, because he did make great strides as the year went along. If you look at the last 75% of this past season (because he really did suck in week 1 & 2, missed week 3, and was out of sorts week 4) and project it over a full season, it takes you to about 835 yards, much better.

The real question is who becomes the standard starter across from Hester for THIS year? I doubt that is Bennett for at least 1 more year, if he is ever more than a very talented slot receiver. I'd like to see Rideau develop into a starter, but you have to go get an average, startable wideout just in case. There is not a single "#1 starter" in the free agency (T.J. is and has always been a possession, #2 wideout, one of the best at it, but thats it, especially at his age).

I'd Like to see Lloyd stick around another year myself, or us grab Hurd or Floyd if they don't get tendered high enough to cost draft picks (on top of Hester, Bennett, Rideau and hopefully another draft development of course).


I have had it with this notion/"philosophy" that the bears have and the local media has pushed about not taking a impact guy on offense in the first round. Or we take one (Cedric Benson) and then totally mismanage his integration on the team. I don't want a GM who is unwilling or incapable of evaluating and drafting first round offensive talent and cultivating it to be a difference maker on YOUR team. Our historically documented ineptness at drafting a franchise QB, and our "NFL" caliber WR group which strikes fear into no Defensive Coordinator. I know it's typical Bear culture group think to write negative comments about Rex Grossman, but isn't it funny that one of the reasons given by Bernard Berrian for leaving, was that he preferred Grossman. And what did TJ Houshmensadah (SP) the top free agent WR say about the Bears and his preference for Grossman. Other franchises have GM's and ownership that act boldly and think creatively to improve their teams, we have management that's the equivalent of a dog trying to catch it's tail.

Good. Let it out wrecks apologists. Whereever he ends up, may you soon follow...

You were never really Bears fans anyway....


BEARS

I think Rex has the tools to be a Pro-Bowler. I haven't seen Kyle make some of the throws across the middle like Rex. Whoever we go with, I will be cheering.

Not that there is anything wrong with cheering Pete, I want the Bears to succeed as well. But I think that's what's wrong with the relationship between sport fan's and our sport's teams. I mean, where else would we as consumers continue to spend good money after bad on a product that year after year fails to improve. Or if you are a stockholder in a company where management continues to make the wrong moves and the competition continues to pass you up? You would either demand a shake up of management or sale your stock in the company. Sport's teams rely on fan loyalty to be there no matter how bad the GM and Coaches screw up, just look at how long Detroit kept Matt M. around. We here in Chicago have been brainwashed into accepting inferior sport products, except for the '85 Bears, '06 White sox's, and the Bull's Dynasty of the '90's. Where else would Kyle Orton (who I don't dislike) be anything but a back-up, we have a right to insist on a better product form our Bears, and when it's not provided, we have a right to hold them accountable by withholding our increasingly hard to earn dollars, and viewership. I bet if the Bears stopped getting high t.v. ratings, and home game sellouts, management would get a fire lit under their posterior's and start getting it done. Who thinks I'm wrong?

2009 is going to be a mail it in season, prepping to get Tebow in the draft.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 13, 2009 10:53 PM.

Booker one of three players released was the previous entry in this blog.

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