The Askew Slant

Wade Askew

By Wade AskewThe Daily Northwestern

You loved him. You hated him. You hoped he wouldn’t screw everything up. He could be your ticket to the Super Bowl. You don’t know what to expect.

Such has been the emotional roller coaster of Rex Grossman’s season. Five weeks into the year, the Bears seemed unstoppable with a play-making QB to go along with their traditionally fierce defense.

But during the sixth game against hapless Arizona, the wheels came off. He threw for 148 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions, nearly earning the Bears their first loss if not for the heroics of Devin Hester. In Chicago’s next game, it seemed Rexy was back to his sexy self, shredding the 49ers’ secondary for 202 yards and three touchdowns without a pick.

But the next week, in Chicago’s first loss of the season, against Miami, Grossman entered a rough stretch, culminating in a 1.3 QB rating game against Minnesota. In no time, the Bears fanbase turned against the man who was their greatest hope early in the season, the last piece of the puzzle on the way to the Super Bowl.

We always hear that the NFL, like all professional sporting leagues, is a “what have you done for me lately” league. Sexy Rexy’s case is a prime example.

A year ago, when Grossman was injured and Kyle Orton led the Bears, Rexy could not come back soon enough. He was made out to be the Savior before he gave anybody any reason to believe he was capable of such a status. Expectations were too high going into the season for a player who was almost a rookie quarterback, given Grossman’s history of injuries. But after a lights-out start to the season, Grossman not only rose expectations, he justified them.

But after Grossman’s dismally poor performance against Minnesota in week 13 of the season, it seems all Chicago fans can talk about is whether or not Grossman will continue to lose games for the Bears.

Since then, he has been mostly solid, except for one terrible game against Green Bay in a meaningless loss. Grossman was 2-12 in that game with a 0.0 rating in one half. Other than that horrid performance, Grossman has averaged 254.5 yards in four games since the Minnesota debacle. He has thrown for six TDs and just one interception in those four games, all wins.

Against Seattle in the playoffs last weekend, Grossman threw for 282 yards, a TD, and an interception on 21/38 passing in wintry Chicago conditions. Does that sound like a QB trying not to lose? A threat to a team’s post-season hopes? It sounds like a QB poised to lead his team to the Super Bowl to me. In fact, Grossman out-performed Mr. Clutch himself, Tom Brady, who threw three interceptions in the Patriots’ win over San Diego last week.

Don’t get me wrong-I’m not saying Grossman is above Brady, or even close to his level, for that matter. If my team had to win one game in the playoffs, I would undoubtedly take Brady’s Patriots, no questions asked. Still, while Grossman isn’t Mr. Reliability, he does give the Bears a chance to win games that require a substantial amount of scoring.

Unlike other QBs in the Bears’ recent past, Grossman has the potential to make big plays. He’s a homeless man’s Brett Favre (to steal a phrase from Bill Simmons)-an unabashed gunslinger who will make big plays and also plays that will make you scratch your head. History proves the Bears cannot win a Super Bowl solely on the shoulders of their defense and a minimalist offense-they have to get some big plays in order to beat the best.

Do I think Sexy Rexy is a Savior? Of course not. But he has received a massive amount of criticism that has not always been deserved. Sure, it’s fair to complain when the guy posts QB ratings of 1.3 and 0.0. But Grossman can also put up big numbers and lead his team to victories, something no otherQB in recent Bears’ history has been able to do.

So love him or hate him, the Bears must accept Rexy as an integral part of the team and their best shot at making the Super Bowl. He is the only QB on the roster who gives them a chance to win big.

Just hope that Sunday will be a high point on the roller coaster.

Reach Wade Askew at [email protected]