Future seems uncertain for Grossman, Bears after loss to Redskins

CHICAGO -- Rex Grossman hobbled into an uncertain future, and the rest of his team wasn't far behind.

One year after reaching the Super Bowl, the Chicago Bears appear to be in a state of flux after a 24-16 loss at Washington on Thursday night all but dashed any shot left at a playoff spot.

"With all the expectations we had, with all we believed we could do, it's been bad," defensive end Alex Brown said. "It's been real bad. I know people use the saying, 'Never in a million years.' That million years came this year. It was bad. Everything was bad. Nothing went the way we felt it would go. And it's over. It's pretty much over now."

Where do the Bears (5-8) go from here?

There are issues to address all over the roster, and quarterback tops the list.

Benched for ineffective play early in the season, Grossman was performing better until a cruel -- and painful -- twist on Thursday.

Just over 4 minutes into the game, on Chicago's second possession, Grossman's left leg twisted awkwardly when he was driven into the ground by defensive lineman Cornelius Griffin. Once he reached the stadium's tunnel, Grossman was taken away on a cart.

Whether that's his last sighting in a Chicago uniform remains to be seen. The team had no update on his condition on Friday, but the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, citing unidentified sources, reported on their Web sites he has a sprained medial collateral ligament and will need about a month to recover. That would mean his season is over.

"Don't know enough about it," coach Lovie Smith said after the game. "You know, it didn't look good when he was injured. And he didn't finish the football game, of course that's not good."

Grossman has an expiring contract and would probably be a relatively cheap option for teams seeking a quarterback. It's hard to predict what they would get from him, though.

Grossman's five seasons in Chicago have been marked by inconsistency and injuries.

He missed most of the 2004 and 2005 seasons with knee and ankle injuries, and his durability was a big question mark until he got through last season unscathed. Consistency remains an issue.

Grossman got benched after throwing six interceptions and one touchdown in the first three games and did not play again until Brian Griese sprained his left shoulder against Oakland on Nov. 11. The time off appeared to help, considering Grossman has three touchdowns and one interception in the past five games.

If he's finished for the year, the Bears have a decision to make: Do they go with the veteran Griese or give third-stringer Kyle Orton a look?

"It is amazing," wide receiver Bernard Berrian said. "I sit at home sometimes and think, 'Are we really in this position?' And it's hard, because we really can't pinpoint why."

The Bears certainly aren't the first Super Bowl runner-up to fall flat the following season.

Seattle became the first since 1997 to win a postseason game the following season with a victory over Dallas in the first round last year. The Seahawks also were the first runner-up to even make the playoffs since the 2001 Tennessee Titans.

It was easy to see why the Bears laughed at that information before the season, even though there were questions about Grossman and the running game.

Troubled defensive tackle Tank Johnson was gone, and Darwin Walker was in his place. The Bears had acquired Adam Archuleta, and a dominant defense returned mostly intact along with an offensive line that ranked among the league's best.

Instead, everything -- and everyone, it seems -- came apart.

Safety Mike Brown, one of the emotional leaders on defense, and defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek suffered season-ending knee injuries in the opener, and the Bears' pain mounted.

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris has been playing basically on one leg due to a knee injury, and six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher has an arthritic back. Pro Bowl cornerback Nathan Vasher (groin) has missed the past 10 games.

Archuleta broke his right hand early on and has been ineffective all year, and Walker has battled knee problems.

The problems extend to the other side.

The offensive line struggled from the start, and nine-time Pro Bowl guard Ruben Brown decided to shut it down last month after trying to play through a right shoulder injury.

Grossman had his problems early in the year. Running back Cedric Benson was mostly ineffective before sustaining a season-ending injury to his left ankle two weeks ago.

"These are the tough times," Harris said. "These are the times you hug one another, you hold each other together."

But how much longer will they be together?

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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