Friday, February 02, 2007

All About Rex

We've put all the pieces together but one. Each team should have success running the football. The Bears' pass D can match up well with Peyton Manning and the Colts, if the Bears use their run game to limit Manning's opportunities. We haven't discussed special teams, but the Bears have a huge advantage in that area. Believe me, Devin Hester against the Colts' punt coverage is a good thing if you're a Bears fan. If we could stop right there, I'd pick the Bears in a close game, say 20-17.

But there's one player on the field we haven't talked about yet, and he could make all the difference in the world. Rex Grossman is not the WORST QUARTERBACK EVER, as the mainstream media would have you believe. Nor is the NFL's Player of the Month from September the GREATEST QUARTERBACK EVER as the national media would have had you believe back then. What he is, is unbelievably inconsistent.

He attempted 459 passes, completed 55% of them for 3,052 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also threw 20 picks. On the surface those numbers don't look so bad. They don't look great, either, but certainly passable. The problem was that Grossman poured on big numbers against some teams -- he was second in the NFL with seven games with a passer rating over 100 -- and could do nothing when the team needed him to in other games, such as against the Patriots and Dolphins.

As a result, the Bears' offense had the widest variance during the regular season of any team in football. It wasn't even that close. Now, in the play-offs Mediocre Rex has suddenly emerged. He struggled against the Saints, but he didn't throw the game away and he came through with one good drive to seal the deal against New Orleans. Against Seattle his numbers look better, but the truth is that he struggled on third down when the stakes are highest. Still, he did enough on first and second down, and minimized his mistakes, allowing the Bears to win.

But two weeks of consistent mediocrity don't override 16 weeks of roller coaster ups and downs. I can't say with any confidence whether Grossman will be fantastic, horrible, or less likely, average. And, as a result, I can't say with any confidence what will happen on Sunday. If he plays great, the Bears could dominate with their superior defense and special teams. If he plays terribly, the Colts could run away with this. If he plays average, I think the Bears have the advantage because of their strength in the running game, defensively and in the return game. Even though he may be the most important guy on the field Sunday, he's also the toughest to analyze. So, I'm going to pretend Grossman doesn't exist. And I'm right back where I started: Bears 20 - Colts 17.


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