Telander: Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall excel in chemistry, not math
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com September 11, 2012 11:42PM
Brandon Marshall, the Bears 6-4 — wait, make that 6-5 — receiver, took advantage of a mismatch against 5-10 cornerback Jerraud Powers. | David Banks~Getty Images
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:54PM
It all starts with math, right?
So when Jay Cutler was asked Tuesday if he could continue to throw passes to wideout Brandon Marshall at the rate he did Sunday against the Colts —that is 15 times a game, multiplied by 16 games, which equals an astounding 240 passes aimed at one man (or so we calculated in our little scribe brains) — Cutler thought for a moment.
‘‘It seems like a lot, doesn’t it?’’ he said.
Understand, it doesn’t take much to entertain us writers and TV creatures. So there was riotous laughter in the Halas Hall media room after Cutler said that. Who can say why? As the jocks’ favorite new cliché/tautology goes: It is what it is.
But the best was yet to come.
‘‘What’s nine times 16?,’’ asked Cutler, revising the math to account for the actual completions (for 119 yards and a touchdown) he had with Marshall.
This scribe answered that he was not good enough in math to know. This scribe would have explained that he stopped taking math after his junior year in high school because trigonometry seemed like the bathroom scribbling of Martians, but he did not.
‘‘If we’re nine out of 15 to him, I’ll take that,’’ Cutler continued. ‘‘But 15 times a game? That’s not going to happen. It’s just not. There’s going to be teams that take him away and we’ll have to go to other guys, and we’ll have to run the ball.’’
The Colts, you see, employed man-to-man coverage on the huge Marshall. Poor 5-10, 187-pound Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers got worn like a medallion by the 6-4, 230-pound Marshall on several plays.
OK, let’s make a note here. Marshall came to the rostrum after Cutler left and said, while describing his advantage over defensive backs, that he is 6-5. Hmm. The media guide and gameday card list Marshall at 6-4. Which is it?
‘‘At the combine they had me at 6-4¾,’’ he answered. ‘‘I didn’t want to start being a headache that soon, so I just kind of let them have it [the 6-4]. But I tell everyone I’m 6-5. I had to at least get to the NFL before I started giving everyone headaches.’’
All right, 6-5 it is henceforth. Rounding up. And the headaches are for DBs, not the keepers of the law.
So back to Cutler. Sort of.
Up pipes the normally dependable radio veteran Les ‘‘The Grobber’’ Grobstein, with the answer to nine times 16: ‘‘129,’’ he states.
There is momentary stillness, then the reliable veteran radio man David Schuster looks at The Grobber in disgust: ‘‘144,’’ he proclaims, correctly.
There is disorder, cackling, amusement, anger.
‘‘Not a bunch of math majors here,’’ interjects Cutler.
There is more press blabbering and chaos.
‘‘Uh oh, we’re going to have a fight on our hands!’’ says the Bears quarterback.
It all started with math, remember?
But the resonance through the ignorance is that Cutler actually joked with the media — always a rarity — and the mathematics of Cutler’s rifle arm with a new weapon like Marshall is simply astounding.
Yes, it’s only one game. And, yes, teams in the future will be silly not to double-cover and zone up against Marshall. But nine receptions a game times 16 games does, indeed, equal 144 receptions. The most any Bears receiver has caught in a season is Marty Booker’s 100 in 2001.
The numbers are interesting because the Bears have never been a wide-open passing team.
You have the rare moments — Mike Ditka, 58 catches for 1,076 yards in 1961; Johnny Morris, 93 for 1,200 in 1964; Jeff Graham, 82 for 1,301 in 1994; Curtis Conway, 81 for 1,049 in 1996; and Booker. But nothing like where Cutler and Marshall could be headed.
‘‘The chemistry Cutler has with 15 [Marshall] dating back to their time together (with the Denver Broncos) showed up today,’’ said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano after the Bears lit up his team 41-21.
And Marshall himself is well aware of the record book: ‘‘144 would be the record,’’ he said, without even being asked. ‘‘Marvin Harrison, 2002.’’
Correct he was. The Colts’ Harrison caught 143 passes from Peyton Manning in 2002.
Obviously, the connection between Cutler and Marshall, the guy who’s bigger than you know, can’t continue at this record-breaking pace. Can it?
Or maybe the math says it all.