Packers and Bears Talk

Ravens 48, Packers 3

It was over in the second quarter.Do you think the Monday Night Football scheduling mavens envisioned a battle between two miserable teams, both in small markets, when they decided on this game? And how on earth do the Ravens score 48 points when they can barely get out of their own way on offense all year long, prior to this game?As a warm-weather Packer fan — and yes, that does sound like an oxymoron, thanks for asking — I pull for them to win. Except when they’re playing the other team I pull for, the Bears (they play on Sunday at Lambeau). But even if I wasn’t a Packer fan, I’d be a Brett Favre fan, because he is tough as nails, a real football player. And you just have to feel horrible for the guy. He came back this year voluntarily — probably, mostly out of a sense of duty — but was confronted with an inferior offensive line because it was cheaper for management, and then injury after injury to the skills players on offense. Now even their patchwork guy, doctor-in-waiting Samkon Gado (I love that name), is injured. And so it goes.

The Bears, meanwhile, appear to have re-discovered Rex Grossman, which leads me to conclude that: (1) Chicago sports talk radio and football fandom will have lots to discuss (“great move!”, “stupid move!”, etc.), and (2) the national media can now stop treating the Bears like last month’s dirty underwear, just found under the bed. ESPN? George Michael Sports Machine? Allen Barra? I’m talking to YOU. Time to take notice of the fact that playoffs are won by line play and defense, and always have been.

Sure, Grossman has only started 6 games before Sunday night’s impressive season debut against the Falcons after a preseason ankle injury, but the fact remains that when he does play, he is pretty solid. Those six games are spread over 3 seasons, which includes practice time, film, and all the other preparation that goes into playing quarterback in the NFL. And the Bears don’t rely on quarterbacks to win games; they rely on them to not lose games. You can do that when you have an excellent offensive line, the most intimidating defense in the NFL, and players at the skill positions that are solid but not spectacular. The point is, of all the teams in the playoff hunt, the Bears are least dependent on their quarterback to win.

All I know is, if I was an opposing coach of an NFC playoff-bound team, I’d be studying film of the Bears only loss in their last 10 games (to the Steelers, on Dec. 11) like a madman, and I’d be a little more concerned about playing them now, with Grossman, than before, with rookie Kyle Orton. The difference in the offense when Grossman entered the game in the third quarter was stunning, both from calling different plays that better exploited Grossman’s passing abiliities, to the big holes opened by that passing for the already-solid running game.

So, we’ll see. That’s why they play the games.

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