why Griese succeeds where Grossman failed

I don’t believe in Brian Griese as a “playmaker”. I do, however, believe in Griese as a smart quarterback. I’m also sure that Grossman has better physical quarterbacking abilities, such as arm strength and a quick release, than Griese.

This is not to say that I don’t think Griese will win many games this year at the helm of the Chicago Bears. He will. But so would any journeyman QB who is smart enough to use his tight ends and check down receivers rather than go for the wideouts on every pass. It might be a mere coincidence, but recall the games that Grossman won last year and who his best receivers were. Almost inevitably, Desmond Clark pops into mind.

Gregg Easterbrook, in his weekly TMQ column, makes the case that winning teams seem to be those teams that feature the tight end (although he ignores some losing teams that also feature the tight end, such as the Cleveland Browns and Kellen Winslow, Jr.). His reasoning is sound: against the Tampa 2 defense, the tight end is often covered by a linebacker rather than a safety. Furthermore, the safeties usually stay deep to prevent big plays in the Tampa 2, so the tight end can take advantage of the seam or area between the zones of the corners and the safeties – if the quarterback is smart enough to take 5 to 10 yard passes instead of going for the 20+ yard options that wideout routes often offer.

Grossman is blessed and cursed with a strong arm and quick release. This led him to try to go for the big play more often than he should have; in those games where he utilized his tight end(s), the results were much better.

Griese, so far, has had similar results. In Griese’s two starts, he has targeted the tight end trio (Desmond Clark, Greg Olsen, and John Gilmore) a total of 23 times (14 for Clark, 7 for Olsen, and 2 for Gilmore). 14 of those passes were caught.

In Griese’s two starts, he has already thrown 14 passes Desmond Clark’s way, whereas Grossman targeted Clark a total of 12 times over the first 3 games of the season. Clark’s stats with Griese at QB have been: 7 receptions for 44 yards and 1 TD vs. the Lions and 3 receptions for 62 yards and 1 TD vs. the Packers.

On the other hand, Grossman targeted the tight end trio a total of 16 times over the first THREE games. 12 were caught.


3 Responses

  1. Good points. However, you aren’t mentioning Grossman’s inability to make good decisions under pressure or his inaccuracy in general and especially under pressure.

    I think finding the TE is a good trait for a QB to have in general. Botht the TE and RB’s out of the backfield can give teams headaches. Griese has been effective and finding both when no one is open. Grossman rarely ever got that far in his progressions. Why ? because he wasn’t good with making decisions under pressure. Even when he did manage to find a target under pressure, accuracy in those situations was horrendous.

    I believe we should utilize TE’s cause we have two good ones. But I also think that a solid running attack can improve the passing attack exponentially. What makes TE’s even more dangerous is when the defense has to respect that they may be run/pass blocking — so in Play Action situations they are huge threats. If the run is not a threat, they can do more to protect against the TE as a passing weapon.

    With Olsen at TE, there is a mismatch ever play, and I’m glad to see we are exploiting that now. Give the Bears credit for finding ways to utilize their new weapons – Olsen and Hester.


  2. True – Grossman tended to lock onto Berrian; maybe that’s because Berrian typically ran the deepest routes. Or maybe it’s just Grossman’s inability to go through his progressions. Probably a little bit of both.

    I just think all the pressure on Grossman this year caused him to go for the “home run” too often, and that’s especially tough when the running game is ineffective. As you pointed out, without a good running game, play action passes don’t work as well. In fact, they just end up giving more time to the defense to sack the QB.

    There’s probably some confounding factors here for TE usage as well: a good running game let’s a team use their TE more through play action. So while I claim that Grossman didn’t use his TE enough, it’s always possible that the TE wasn’t open because of the lack of a running game (and good run fakes) for the Bears. Another factor in Grossman’s demise is simply that Olsen was injured those first few games.

  3. Very good point. We really didn’t even utilize Olsen or Hester from a gameplan standpoint until the last 2 games. Olsen and Hester make our offense completely different than the first few weeks of the season.

    But I don’t think it would have made that big of a difference with Grossman. Griese has some subtleties in how he moves in the pocket that Grossman doesn’t possess at this point. Griese seems to make compact and slight moves to avoid the rush, and still keep himself in a position to throw a good pass. Grossman seemed to get flustered by the rush.

    I actually think this is going to be the best thing for Grossman as well. He needs some time to sit back an learn from Griese’s experience and how he prepares. He’s never really had that opportunity until this point.

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