On December 4, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti (above) wrote of Bears coach Lovie Smith, “if Rex Grossman remains your quarterback, your season goes splat in January. You won™t see a contract extension, the city will call for a full-blown probe of your pedigree and years of Bears disgust will plummet lower than Lower Wacker Drive.

A week ago, after Grossman was lifted in favor of backup Brian Griese, Mariotti blasted Smith. “All you™ve done is play with Grossman™s brittle psyche, give talk radio something to jabber about all week and create a story line after trying incredibly hard to avoid such intrigue all season.”

In yesterday’s Sun-Times, Jay did his best to mend that same brittle psyche.

With the Good Rex/Bad Rex conundrum sure to explode into a huge nationwide story line, I’ve seen no proof Grossman (above) can handle the pressure, prove everyone wrong, manage the offense consistently and efficiently in two cold-weather home games and lead this team to a Super Bowl. Furthermore, with the Bears’ pass defense in thorough disarray and vulnerable to more Favre-like carvery, it’s paramount the offense controls the clock with Cedric Benson — get him the ball, early and often — and not kill the cause with blunders. If you ask me if Good Rex or Bad Rex will show up in the divisional round at Soldier Field, I’d lay the house on Bad Rex.

So the time has come to shelve the Rexperiment until next season and get on with the raw business of taking advantage of a weak NFC. Yes, it’s time to promote Brian Griese and get him ready for the first playoff game, likely against the beatable, imploding Dallas Cowboys or the beatable but potentially sneaky Seattle Seahawks. I know, Griese didn’t look great himself in the second half, but at least he has the valid excuse of limited practice reps. I simply have more confidence that he can do more to win a playoff game — and less to sabotage the entire team — than the QB dubbed by headline writers as ”Gross, Man.”

When and if Brian Griese leads Da Bears to a narrow victory over Dallas or Seattle the weekend after next, look forward to a Mariotti entry suggesting that even Rex Grossman could’ve done more for the Chicago offense.