The Bears have 32 Super Bowl-quality starters. They've got probably the best defense in the league, probably the best special teams in the league, and an offense littered with young playmakers.
They've also got a quarterback who can move the chains, who will take the short gain instead of the big risk, who can keep the ball in the hands of his playmakers and not those of the opposition, who can lead this team to a championship. That quarterback is Brian Griese. He's not the 33rd starter. The Bears won't be in the Super Bowl again.
Look. Athletically, Rex Grossman has Griese by a mile. Rexy would make the perfect quarterback for a team of feisty youngsters who are more competitive than they should be. When things go well, he'd be that, ugh, gunslinger who came up with the game-winning 60-yard touchdown pass because he wasn't afraid to take a chance downfield. When he throws a back-breaking interception on a fourth quarter comeback drive it won't matter, because, well, his team was only supposed to go 4-12 this year and they're on pace for seven wins. In short, he'd be perfect for the 2007 Packers.
But the 2007 Bears aren't the 2007 Packers. With the talent the Bears have elsewhere, all they need is a guy who can pick up first downs, no matter how much smallball has to be played. They don't need to be greedy, hoping their hit-or-miss quarterback can channel his inner Marino. And, truth be told, they can't afford to be greedy either. Common logic dictates that with that defense and special teams, the Bears have a larger margin of error at quarterback. But in this day and age of NFL free agency, dominant teams don't stay dominant for too long. The defense will not always be this good. Devin Hester will not always be this good (returners, in general, are known for having one outstanding year -- see Dante Hall -- and while I think Hester will be good for years, it's hard to imagine keeping up last year's pace). The Bears can win the championship, and they can win it this year.
They won't, however, because they want to win the Super Bowl on their terms, they're choosing a strategy better suited for a 16-0 run than one towards the Super Bowl. They were close last year, the only thing separating them from the Lombardi Trophy being Grossman's inability to limit his mistakes. In the offseason, the Bears should have made their offense more basic. They should have forgotten about producing flash and focused on a higher-percentage attack. They've already got the perfect defense for playoff football, and Cedric Benson is a grinder.
Instead, they fashioned the unit with more flash. Hester will be playing more offense (exposing him, I think, to being "figured out," as well as the increased chance of injury), and Greg Olsen can run a beautiful seam but can't block a tackling dummy. This is an offense that will be occasionally breathtaking, but more often disappointing and self-destructive. This is now a team that doesn't have one cohesive personality. The offense and defense are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and that just doesn't jive.
The window is as open as it's going to get. It's only going to start closing. The Bears do not have any time to waste. For decades, the Bears have had one identity. Now that they're making a concerted effort to denounce that identity, they're going to ruin one of the best defenses they've ever had. Meanwhile, their Super Bowl quarterback isn't the one heaving prayers downfield. He's the son of another Super Bowl quarterback, the one who never lived up to his pedigree but has exactly what it takes to lead this team. He'll spend the season on the bench.