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September 21, 2023

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Griese makes start against Lions Sunday

DETROIT – The Chicago Bears decided they could not overlook Rex Grossman’s shortcomings anymore, benching the 2003 first-round pick in favor of 10-year veteran Brian Griese.

After playing with Griese at Michigan a decade ago, Detroit Lions offensive tackle Jeff Backus understands why Chicago made the move.

Backus said Griese brings “poise” and “intelligence” to the field and recalled him as a senior being very demanding, especially with then-freshmen linemen such as himself and Steve Hutchinson.

“I didn’t like him much as a teammate. He was tough on young guys,” Backus said. “It was a good thing, not a negative thing; we ended up winning a national championship.

“He took control of that offense.”

Chicago is hoping Griese does the same with its 30th-ranked offense.

Even though Grossman was the No. 1 quarterback for the Bears en route to the Super Bowl last season, his lackluster arm and decision making led many in the Windy City to call for a change.

“I have never seen a player go through as much as Rex Grossman had to go through here,” said coach Lovie Smith, who chose to make the QB switch. “Just constant criticism, it seemed like no matter what he did.

“That’s why taking a step back isn’t all bad for him to let him get out of that fire for a little while. It’s easy to blame the quarterback. Now, we will get a chance to see exactly what we are. Rex won’t get the blame.”

The Lions (2-1) hope to show the Bears (1-2) and all those watching that they are now an NFC North contender, and no longer the NFL’s laughingstock.

Detroit also wants to prove last week’s embarrassment, a 56-21 loss at Philadelphia, was an aberration and not a hint of what’s to come for a team coming off six straight seasons with at least 10 losses.

“We’re not going to get into that here-we-go mode,” Lions running back Kevin Jones said.

If the Bears beat Detroit it will not alarm quarterback Jon Kitna, who has garnered a lot of attention for saying he would be disappointed if the Lions didn’t win at least 10 games.

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