Numbers mean little to Alex Brown.
Forget that the trio of defensive ends Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck has combined for 25.5 of the Giants' NFL-high 38 sacks this season.
Ignore that the Bears' defensive-end trio of Brown, Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson have 10.5 fewer than the Giants 15.
Brown sure did.
"I want to start by saying I respect them so much because I believe they're very, very good...but I think we're better,'' Brown said of the Giants pass-rushers. "But we have to go out and show it. We'll see what happens.''
What likely will happen now is somebody will relay Brown's comments to Strahan, Umenyiora and Tuck. Then the three Giants probably will memorize the words so they can repeat them into Rex Grossman's earhole when they're breathing fire into it after another sack.
"I don't want to get them riled up but I think our offensive line will hold their own,'' Brown said. "And hopefully we'll get after their quarterback.''
Hard to blame Brown for being so confident seeing the Giants come to town. He has six sacks in his last two games against them. One month after his four-sack game at the Meadowlands in 2004, Brown signed a $16 million contract extension with a $5.5 million bonus.
If Brown wanted to pick up the dinner tab for the Giants offensive line Saturday night, everybody would understand.
"For some reason I've been able to get to their quarterback,'' Brown said. "Hopefully that doesn't change.''
So whose pass rush really will be better? That won't be known until Sunday. Here are some questions that can be answered now.
Say you are the GM of a team and you have to choose between Eli Manning and Rex Grossman for next year's starting quarterback. Eli or Rex? --Michael H., Indianapolis, Ind.
Give me Rex, who has done something for the Bears that Eli hasn't yet with the Giants: Start for a Super Bowl team. Grossman also has proven better in the postseason overall with two playoff victories on his resume compared to an 0-2 record for Manning. Both have flaws that tend to get more attention than their respective talents and potential. Manning's edge in experience he's 27-23 as a starter in reality gives the edge to Grossman because of a 19-9 record as a Bears starter. The thought is in the next 22 starts a rejuvenated Grossman can improve so that he will be a better quarterback than Manning is after 50 NFL starts. Manning just hasn't improved enough in the past two years. Grossman, the hope is, still can.
Just wondering what you thought of Bernard Berrian saying that he should be among the top 10 highest-paid receivers when his contract runs out after the season. Am I missing something here? Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith, Chad Johnson, Roy Williams, Donald Driver, Plaxico Burress, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald. That's 10 right there who blow Berrian away. --Danny Sheridan, Naperville, Ill.
Here are 10 more that at least would make a good argument. Marvin Harrison. Anquan Boldin. T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Joey Galloway. Hines Ward. Torry Holt. Calvin Johnson. Laveranues Coles. Chris Chambers. Lee Evans.
Is Berrian clearly better than any of those 10 either? In that context, his stated salary demands seem high in the midst of a season where he has dropped enough passes to stand out. You know new agent Drew Rosenhaus will drive the price up and get at least one other team to help create a market to do so. Berrian will end this season with career highs in receptions and yards but is he worth a signing bonus north of $10 million that it might take to keep him? On the surface, the answer is no. But with an aging Muhsin Muhammad in decline and no roster lock and no other developing receivers on the horizon the Bears might be forced to overpay for Berrian to provide some continuity especially if Grossman stays. It won't be an easy decision.
How bad is Cedric Benson's ankle injury and what do you think about him returning next season? --Gavin D., Waco, Texas
Nobody likes to see a player go down just when he appeared to be making some long-awaited progress. And nobody knows how well Benson will recover from ankle surgery because he has been fortunate to have avoided similar injuries in the past. The fact that he is not known as an off-season workout warrior or fitness freak prone to weight gains probably concerns the Bears. On the other hand, perhaps a traumatic experience like this injury could induce the metamorphosis in Benson's approach for which the Bears have been waiting. According to a team source, Benson sustained a minor fracture near the left ankle that was similar to what Grossman suffered in 2005 but not as serious. Grossman was back on the field in a little more than four months. Benson can take longer and still be able to make mini-camp next May when the Bears should welcome him back to compete with Adrian Peterson and a promising first-day draft pick for the starting running back position.
Why is Brad Maynard so horribly inefficient pinning opposing teams deep in their own end? If he had a nickname it'd be Mr. Touchback.
Maynard ranks 19th overall among NFL punters with an average of 42.5 with 19 punts dropped inside the 20 and a net-punting average of 37.9 the 11th-highest in the league. That's not horribly inefficient by any definition. His toughest critic, Maynard might agree he is not having his best year but the standard he has set in Chicago is a high one. The next five games three of which will come at home likely in inclement weather could remind you of the value of a veteran who is arguably the best punter in Bears history.
Is there really no other option than the constantly-burnt, poor-tackling No. 20 on defense? --Todd Schroeder, Chicago
In fact, there is no better option than Adam Archuleta at strong safety. Brandon McGowan is the backup but has a terrible ratio of blown assignments to plays on the field. He can't be trusted. So Archuleta remains the best the Bears have at the position. The most disappointing thing about his season has been the missed tackles, which was supposed to be a strength. The coverage issues that have exposed his limitations, in part, can be attributed to coaches putting him in bad spots. That will be especially key Sunday against tight end Jeremy Shockey, the type of matchup against which Archuleta has struggled.
Late in the Broncos game, the Bears dropped four men deep in punt return formation to form a wedge. Can you comment on this strategy, the risks and the possibilities of seeing it in the future? --John, Rochester, Minn.
First, credit special teams coordinator Dave Toub with the adjustment that forced the Broncos to burn a timeout. Any time a coach can do that, it's a good move. But dropping four men to form a mini-wedge on punts is something return teams can't do often because eventually punt teams will run a fake against the six remaining defenders on the line. If read quickly enough, it's an invitation to get the first down. But Toub has been exceptional at coming up with innovative ways to force opposing special teams to do things they normally wouldn't do which is why the Bears are among the league's best in that department.
How is it possible for Nathan Vasher to be almost a lock to return after the bye week to still missing in action? Is there more to the story that we don't know about? --Greg, Atlanta
Your cynicism is understood given the cryptic way the Bears deal with injuries but Vasher has been among the most open and helpful patients in the Lovie Smith Era. The Bears were overly optimistic before the bye week and Vasher simply had a minor setback and was underestimating the severity of his groin injury. Even after practicing twice this week, it's no lock he will be on the field against the Giants. The only certainty? As long as a shot at the playoffs remain, they need him on the field.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times