I am not a huge fan of Brian Griese and the decision to go with Griese at QB over seeing what Orton can do rankled me. But I am also frequently wrong. And it appears that Griese may yet salvage this horrible season and give the Bears a shot at the playoffs, even if they can only hope for a wild card. Griese followed up the great deep throw to Hester against the Vikes last week with a jaw-dropping 97 yard drive with under 2 minutes left on the clock and no timeouts. Not surprisingly, Griese was able to take advantage of the Eagles' soft coverage over the middle -- something the Eagles had left exposed for most of the game -- on two big passing plays to Berrian and Hester for 47 of the 97 yards that netted the winning score. Perhaps even less surprising, Griese called the final plays himself, as radio communication with the underwhelming Ron Turner was cut off for that last drive.
Unstated in much of the coverage of today's game in the Chicago press is a fact that I find, well, unreal: in two games, Griese has thrown for 322 and 381 yards. The two back to back 300+ yard games equal the amount of 300+ yard games a Bears quarterback has had in the 5 seasons between 2002 and 2006. Last year Grossman threw for 339 yards against Tampa Bay in an overtime game on December 17th. Before that, no Bears quarterback had thrown for 300 yards in a game since Jim Miller threw for 353 yards in a loss against the Packers on October 7, 2002. In fact, I believe that the 381 yards that Griese threw for in the loss against the Vikings two weeks ago were the most a Bears quarterback had amassed in a game since Jim Miller threw for 422 yards against the Vikings in week 10 of 1999.
The performances that Griese has turned in the last two weeks fully justify the move away from Grossman and have helped to demonstrate how good the receiving corps of the Bears has become. While Berrian and Bradley have not shined, the two U alums (Olsen and Hester) have flourished and present daunting additional threats for opposing defenses. The more dangerous the passing attack becomes, the greater the chance that Ced Benson will have some success carrying the ball. And, if Benson does not, the "bust" tag can be hung on him with little controversy and Angelo can use the offseason to figure out what alternatives exist to shore up the team's backfield.