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Bears need the safe Rex in playoffs

CHICAGO - If the idea is to confuse us, it's working. In fact, if the idea is to confuse us, we're pretty much walking around blindfolded in a maze.

CHICAGO - If the idea is to confuse us, it's working. In fact, if the idea is to confuse us, we're pretty much walking around blindfolded in a maze.

After what Rex Grossman offered for our perusal the last time he played - I'm speaking specifically of his unfocused, who-cares, New Year's Eve-distracted interceptions against the Green Bay Packers - the logical conclusion would be that the Chicago Bears, come Sunday's playoff game, would hide him in a basement until the Seattle Seahawks went home.

Or to be kinder, the logical conclusion, given his mountain-and-Death-Valley season, is that the only way the Bears reach their goal of winning the Super Bowl is if they turn Grossman into an ultraconservative quarterback. A right-wing right-hander. A red state governor.

But no.

"If it's there, I'm taking it," he said this week. "That's how you play football. If the throw is there, give it a shot. We're trying to win the game, not kick field goals."


Have the Bears reeled him in at all, game-plan-wise, gamble-wise or otherwise?

"No," he said.

Brashness we don't need right now.

Here is what everyone is saying about the Bears: For them to win, Grossman doesn't even have to be good. All he has to be is not bad. It's not the kind of motto a team can rally around ("Get out there and be mediocre, Rex! Who's with him?"), but it's the truth.

"I don't care what 'they' say," Grossman said of everyone and everyone's extended family. "I want to do what my coaches are asking me to do and play efficiently and complete a high percentage of passes and make plays when they're there.

"Hopefully we get into a rhythm early and take some shots down the field once in a while. But our core offense is to run the ball and complete a high percentage of passes."

That's more like it. But it doesn't jibe with his earlier comment that, given a chance, he will go for the gold. Maybe Grossman is emboldened because he will be playing a Seahawks defense featuring two cornerbacks who were out of football as of three weeks ago. He needs to remind himself there were times this season that he played like a claims adjuster pulled in off the street.

It's a little scary is what it is. If Grossman thinks he can go back to being the risk-taker, there's a decent chance he will take the rest of the team down with him - if not Sunday against Seattle, then the next week in the NFC Championship Game. He has the talent to be that quarterback someday. Just not any someday soon.


"I've got a lot of confidence going into this game because I've got such a great team," he said. "We have a great defense. We have a great running game. Our offensive line is going to give us time to throw. I'm just excited about this opportunity.

"I just feel like if I do what I'm supposed to do, do what the coaches ask me to do and make plays when they're there . . . I've got a lot of confidence that I can go out there and do that - be extremely effective."

But there is a question about what Grossman is supposed to do. Do the Bears trust him enough to take some big chances Sunday? If they do, they're crazy. Is it imperative they take some low-risk chances with the passing game to set up the running attack? Yes, it is. But nothing more.

Coach Lovie Smith has said he will stick with Grossman on Sunday no matter how bad his quarterback plays. Don't read too much into that. Smith is the master of speaking the untruth, the whole untruth and nothing but the untruth, so you can bet if Grossman is throwing the game away, Brian Griese will get a chance.

The hope is that Grossman will play a smart game and avoid buying interceptions in bulk, as has been his tendency. The reality? He's the great unknown.

Grossman has taken a lot of heat for admitting he wasn't focused for the regular-season finale against the Packers, but he said Wednesday that his comments were taken out of context and that if they had been uttered in a one-on-one interview instead of a news conference, they would have been understood better.

"I won't talk to you as openly anymore," he said.

I recall Ozzie Guillen saying much the same thing, and he has been a run-on sentence since then.


Grossman said he takes the criticism of his play as a challenge but that he doesn't listen to it, which does sound like an impossible combination.

We're so confused.

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