The Bears, though, will stick with Grossman as they try to move closer to securing a first-round bye in the playoffs when they visit the St. Louis Rams on Monday night.
Chicago (10-2) became the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff berth by defeating Minnesota 23-13 last Sunday to win its second straight NFC North Division title, but Grossman had another poor performance.
He completed 6 of 19 passes for 34 yards and threw three interceptions for a 1.3 quarterback rating, but Bears coach Lovie Smith is adamant that Grossman will remain his starter, despite numerous calls for veteran Brian Griese.
“Right now we’re 10-2 with Rex as our quarterback,” Smith said. “We are not making a change. I’ve seen Rex play well. And that’s what you have to go on. We have a lot of football left to go, we’re just getting ready to start the last quarter of the season. I think he will get back to that point.”
Grossman opened the season by throwing for 1,243 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in his first five games, and was named NFC offensive player of the month in September.
Everything changed for Grossman on Oct. 16 in a Monday night game against Arizona.
He threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles, and needed Chicago’s defense and special teams to bail him out in a 24-23 victory—snapping the Bears’ four-game losing streak on Monday night.
Since that contest, Grossman has passed for 1,181 yards with eight TDs and 14 picks in seven games, and the Bears have the worst passing offense in the league over that span.
“I never really got anything going, and that is something I need to fix,” Grossman said after last week’s win. “It’s definitely a situation that I don’t want to be in. It’s unfortunate. But it just feels weird. I feel like we lost and (I’m) wearing a division championship (hat).”
The Bears have won the division title in back-to-back seasons for the first time since winning five in a row from 1984-88, and can earn a first-round bye for the second straight year with a win over the Rams (5-7) and losses by Dallas and Seattle on Sunday.
Chicago was led by its defense and special teams last season, and those units have again been helping the Bears win lately.
Chicago managed 107 yards of total offense against the Vikings—its fewest since gaining 104 in a 17-0 loss to San Francisco in 2000—and needed touchdowns off a punt return from Devin Hester and an interception return from Ricky Manning Jr.
Hester tied an NFL record with his fourth touchdown return and the defense created five turnovers for the second straight game. Chicago leads the league with 39 takeaways—10 more than Baltimore—after having 34 last season.
St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger threw a season-high three interceptions in the Rams’ 30-20 home loss to Arizona last Sunday, and has been susceptible to turning the ball over lately.
Bulger had 13 touchdowns and one interception in the first eight games of the season, but has three TDs and six interceptions in the last four contests.
After the loss to the Cardinals, the normally soft-spoken Bulger called out some of his teammates for not caring as the Rams were penalized for a season-high 126 yards.
“I’ve made a hundred mistakes and I want to reiterate, I’m not perfect,” Bulger said. “But I care, and there’s definitely more than one person I think in this locker room that could not care less.
“But they get their paycheck on Monday and it’s OK.”
After starting the year 4-1, St. Louis has lost six of seven, but coach Scott Linehan said it’s far too early to give up on the season.
“You can make the playoffs in this league at 8-8,” Linehan said. “Our season is not over. No way are we approaching it that way.”
St. Louis has won its last five Monday night games at the Edward Jones Dome, including a 21-16 win over Chicago on Nov. 18, 2002. The Rams have won their last four games against the Bears.