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Bears issue at hand

As it has been in the past and doubtless will be in the future, Rex was the No. 1 issue coming out of the . It's tough to find a Rex issue that won't be handled by my colleagues in the paper, so it's time to get specific.

In the second quarter on Sunday, Chiefs lineman Tamba Hali came at Grossman in an all-too-familiar sight in this young season. He appeared poised to swat the ball away, but Grossman clenched it with both hands, stepped away from the lunging Hali, and rolled right, where he found Bernard Berrian open for a 21-yard pass.

It was enough to make Dennis V. comment: "Nice move, Rex to Berrian. You're learning." Big Cat chimed in: "Wow, what a lousy block, but look at Grossman improvise!" So, Rex, scout that play for us, please:

Grossman: "I had my eyes on the backside receiver, so I didn't see him coming and I just think that I was balanced in the pocket enough to where I didn't fall over if someone hit me. He kind of fell down, no one was around me, I scrambled to my right and made a play. … I think I need to continue to make plays like that, whether it's stepping up in the pocket and moving around or just quick move and avoid somebody to get the ball in someone's hands. Continuing to keep two hands on the ball and staying balanced in the pocket, good things will come."

Well, Rex, if you did that, it certainly would make life easier for those of us that have to file through reader comments to make sure no one is saying anything profane about you or borrowing names from urbandictionary.com.

On the board, JohnF wondered why the Chiefs weren't pressuring Grossman in the first half, and when they started to get to him in the second half, JohnF chimed in: " See, blitz Grossman and he folds… Typical." So why has the pressure been coming in almost untouched, and how can it be fixed, Rex?

"I think the first thing is everyone's gotta be on the same page of who has who and the responsibilities of everyone and being able to react to it quickly, and make the appropriate decision after that. I think we're on the same page now. We've seen every look you can see and from here on out, we're just gonna apply our rules."

Back to the Rex scrambling play, Muhsin Muhammad took the opportunity of a broken play to throw one of those blind-side blocks that players love to throw and fans love to see. JohnF (who seemed to be ever-present on Sunday) expressed his appreciation: "Moose, you STUD!"

Muhammad: "There were a lot of things I tried to do in that game--since I wasn't catching very many balls. I just tried to open it up for Ced. Bernard was catching some balls. They were kind of singling Bernard up a little bit over there and I was coming across trying to get some blocks for Bernard, just trying to make the team better."

Muhammad wasn't the only one leveling blocks on Sunday. The running game got going after a hand-wringing Week 1, springing Cedric Benson for 101 yards and numerous favorable comments.

So what was different?

Fullback Jason McKie: "The more we go through our runs and see different defenses, having a variety of different defenses run at us, you kinda get your timing down more. You get a feel for how the guys around you are blocking it and helps you establish the run game better. … In the run game, it's all timing so it takes a lot more time to get the timing down. In preseason, you're not playing that much, so you're not gonna get the timing down in preseason. You get your timing down in training camp, but then you get to preseason and you don't play. Then you come back in the regular season and it's kinda like you're starting the cycle all over again. So as we go further down in the season, the running game will pick up like it did last season."

While I had McKie's attention, I decided to ask him about a hit he leveled on a would-be tackler in Week 1, much like the hit he laid last season that took Tye Hill's helmet off. Is it the fullback mentality?

"You're just trying to do whatever you can to gain more yards. You know those DBs are gonna come in low and try to take your legs out and me, personally, I get kinda tired of that. So I want to deliver a blow to them. [Fullbacks] are not really hitting corners and safeties the whole game, you hit linebackers, so anytime you get a chance to tee off on a cornerback or a safety, you definitely want to do that, take advantage of it."

I would be remiss (and probably already am for waiting this long) in mentioning Devin Hester. As "DEVIN IS #1" suggested on the board after his 31-yard third-quarter punt return, "HESTER RULES!!" But in addition to the very obvious advantage the Bears have on special teams, they also blocked a field goal for the second time in as many games, prompting Cherry to say, "WHEW! Nice block there, Idonije," referring to defensive lineman Israel Idonije.

So is there anything they're doing different on the field goal block unit?

Idonije: "It's about imposing your will on the guy across from you. I'm comin' through, the last block was a double push, so I had a guy pushing me behind me and it's just about us two taking over this gap and getting your hands up. There's an element of luck, if the ball goes to the left or to the right it doesn't come."

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub: "We were pretty good last year, too. We ended up No. 1 in the league last year on field goal [defense]. Everything has to go right to get a block. We always get good push inside, we just happened to get lucky with being able to get our hand on it. A lot of times that ball is real close to our hand and we just miss it sometimes. … Izzy got real good penetration, he had good technique, he got a good push from Hunter [Hillenmeyer], who was pushing him from behind, then he got his hand up and it was right in the right spot."

Special teams co-captain Brendon Ayanbadejo: "Coach Toub watches a lot of film, coach O'Dea watches a lot of film and try to attack a team's weakness. We have all our regular blocks, but we set up the blocks in different ways. [For example], we're gonna run a right block, but we're gonna attack the guard, the tackle or the tight end on this particular play. It's basically just from film analysis. Last year we were No. 1 as well on field goal defense."

So is the field goal block unit going to start a competition with Hester? The score right now is Hester 10, Unit 6.

Ayanbadejo: "It's gonna be hard. If you put up missed field goals on there then it might be close. Then we could keep score. But otherwise, six touchdowns, that's 36 points? It's not close."

Idonije: "That's a battle we can't win. He's just warming up. This is gonna be a big year for him."

Finally, to some extra-curricular issues, and let's start with one that wasn't on the board, but was brought to my attention by colleague Amanda Kaschube on Tuesday night. Ayanbadejo and his brother Obafemi are releasing a series of Web videos called Bears Brothers.

It's pretty good stuff, and a rare behind-the-scenes look at a Bears team that is otherwise pretty closed off.

"We haven't even started marketing it," Brendon said. "We did a soft release. … Our goal was 5,000 hits by the weekend, by the game. We've hit 5,000 already and it's what, Wednesday? Maybe we'll get 10,000."

I suppose someone will object to me helping his cause, but it's just as helpful for Bears fans' cause of getting to know their team, so that's how I justify it.

Finally, for the third consecutive season, the Bears donned their road whites for the home opener (and incidentally, are 3-0 in those games). This did not rub Dirk on the comment board the right way, prompting him to write: "Why the road unis? I don't like the trend in the NBA and now NFL of home team dressing like the road team."

Ayanbadejo: "I don't even know what's home and what's away, when we wear orange, why we wear orange, I don't know any of that stuff. Why we wear white on white, or navy blue on navy blue. I just go with whatever's in my locker and then I just make sure I don't mess up my socks."

McKie: "I didn't even know that. I don't pay attention to that. They didn't give us a reason. I don't think a lot of guys pay attention to that. It's better to wear. It's a lot cooler."

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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