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Bears bench Grossman, turn to Griese

The Chicago Bears have seen enough of Rex Grossman. Now it's Brian Griese's turn.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears have seen enough of Rex Grossman. Now it's Brian Griese's turn.

The much anticipated quarterback change became official Wednesday when the defending NFC champions announced Griese would start this week at Detroit.

At 1-2 and with the league's 30th-ranked offense, something needed to change for the Bears. So they turned to Griese, a Pro Bowl pick with Denver in 2000.

"I'm excited for Brian," coach Lovie Smith said. "He brings a lot of experience. He's been a loyal soldier in a backup role up to this point. He's anxious to go. Our team will back him 100 percent like they did Rex, and hopefully, we can get this thing going in the right direction.

"Of course, decisions like this aren't made overnight. I've looked at a pattern of our play and the play at the quarterback position."

Whether this is the end for Grossman in Chicago or just a temporary switch after several rough outings remains to be seen. He has six interceptions and one touchdown this season and got picked off three times in last week's 34-10 loss to Dallas.

Grossman's contract expires after this season.

"As far as week to week, no. We don't do things that way," Smith said. "Rex wasn't under week to week: `I have to play a certain way or I'll lose my job.' I always let a player play for a period of time to show us exactly what we are. That's how we'll look at it from here on.

"Brian is our quarterback. The starting rotation has been established now."

The 27-year-old Grossman has struggled ever since February's Super Bowl, when he threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. This year, he ranks 24th in the league with 500 yards, has a 45.2 rating and is 47-of-89 (52.8 percent) with six interceptions and just one touchdown.

Griese, a 10-year veteran, is 32. He has passed for 16,564 yards and has completed 63 percent of his passes, but he has almost as many interceptions (80) as touchdowns (104). He was a starter with the Broncos, Miami and Tampa Bay, but all three teams released him.

"First and foremost, as an offense we have to step up," Griese said. "I think that playing offense is an attitude, and I think since I've been here, the offense has been kind of second-class citizens. Hopefully I can bring a little bit of energy and enthusiasm to our huddle and to our game.

"I will be prepared, I am going to work hard, and I will compete on Sundays."

Griese made it clear when the Bears signed him before last season that he wanted to start. Well, the opportunity is finally here.

"He probably felt he was a starter, too, but he's been a professional and he's handled himself as that," defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said.

Tight end Desmond Clark praised Griese for his "calm demeanor."

"What you guys see every day is what Brian brings to the huddle," Clark said. "He's calm. He's a real confident guy."

Smith stuck with Grossman despite his inconsistencies last season, responding the same way whenever asked about his status: "Rex is our quarterback." It was the same way during the preseason, and the coach even said it after the Dallas game.

The Bears believed that with a full season as a starter and with a deep set of receivers, Grossman would find the consistency he lacked last season. Instead, last year's NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September couldn't make it out of this month with his starting job.

Grossman is now second on the depth chart, between Griese and Kyle Orton.

"I've been where Rex is," Griese said. "I had a candid conversation with him about that, too. I have a lot of respect for Rex and the way that he's handled it. He has every right to be upset and angry, but he has no animosity, which I really respect him for."

Grossman certainly isn't the only one to blame for the offense's struggles, but he caught the brunt of it from fans.

An aging offensive line that has ranked among the league's best in recent years has shown more holes. Cedric Benson has just 189 yards and is averaging 3.2 per carry.

That deep set of receivers?

Two-time Pro Bowl pick Muhsin Muhammad has been a non-factor with four catches for 36 yards. He seemed to stop short on a deep route over the middle, resulting in an interception during the Dallas game, and a wide-open Bernard Berrian dropped what looked like a 35-yard touchdown.

In the past, the Bears could count on a dominant defense to bail them out. But that group is battered by injuries.

"I think we have talent on offense," Griese said. "I think we have the ability to score points and we will score points. I'm going to work as hard as I can to allow us to be in the right position, put our team in position to make plays."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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