Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall seems filled with so much promise
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com May 24, 2012 12:53AM
Tim Jennings, Brandon Marshall
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:16AM
On this sunny spring day at Halas Hall, all things seem possible.
Why, this compound itself — surrounded by green forest, with gaily painted birdhouses dangling from nearby trees and little bunnies sometimes scooting across the gravel pathways (Oh, delight!) — is more arboretum than violence factory.
Right now quarterback Jay Cutler is running a skeleton passing drill featuring new wide receiver Brandon Marshall. This pairing — the veteran QB and his former Denver Broncos teammate, together again — can be seen on this vivid day as the reuniting of a cannon with its cannon ball. As Brian Wilson back with Mike Love. As Lil Wayne back with herb.
The destruction the Bears’ 2012 offense will wreak on foes will be something to see.
Or so it seems.
It’s why Cutler and Marshall are mobbed by reporters the instant they step off the practice field at the end of this organized team activity.
Back on March 16, a weeping, just-acquired Marshall had told us that he and Cutler “communicate without even talking.’’ They were more than just a thrower and a catcher. “That bond we have on and off the field is amazing,’’ said Marshall, who had 206 receptions for 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns with Cutler in Denver in the 2007 and ’08 seasons.
“He’s a guy that I’ve missed,’’ Cutler said Wednesday.
We should expect King and Kong, folks.
Throw in Cutler’s favorite quarterbacks coach of all time, Jeremy Bates, now with the Bears, and we might — again, in the glow of this lovely afternoon — expect something akin to a holy trinity.
“Hopefully, this is not a pit stop,’’ Marshall said two months ago. “This is a place I can call home.’’
Oh, yes, almost forgot to mention Marshall has been on three teams in the last four years. As he has noted, the moving about has been “more of a philosophy thing.’’ Read, nuttiness.
But supposedly that is all gone, too. Marshall spoke of himself and Cutler being young and immature during their Broncos period. But now, at 28 and 29, respectively, they have their heads screwed on tightly, seemingly to the same neck.
When asked why he and Cutler are so closely wired, Marshall said, “I ... don’t ... know!’’ as if he were amazed by the near-miracle. Then he said it again: “I don’t know!’’
But he speculated it was because they both love the game, and they have the same football-field vision, that instinctive thing that allows improvisation and creativity during seemingly doomed plays. “And that’s what the great ones do,’’ Marshall said.
Absent from the joyfulness was last season’s star running back, Matt Forte, whose contract dispute likely will be settled by training camp. Or not. Forte now knows the irony of being named a ‘‘franchise player,’’ a supposed reward that actually is a hangman’s noose for those players who would like to make as much money as they can before they’re driven from the game.
Also not practicing, though watching, were someday Hall of Fame middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and briefly starting offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, who had his knee crippled for him after only a few series in the NFL.
And there was kid Shea McClellin, the former Boise State linebacker-turned-defensive end wearing No. 99 on his jersey, a number that a lot of us recall once belonged to Dan Hampton, a Hall of Fame D-lineman that McClellin can only hope to emulate. First-round picks have high expectations, and in McClellin’s case, they remind you that the passing game is not the only part of the team.
The Green Bay Packers are still in the Bears’ division, and they still have Aaron Rodgers, and they always have receivers.
As I left the crowded area near the field, I strolled up a path to the Ed McCaskey Memorial reflecting area, on a small rise 100 yards or so to the south of the main building. There are benches in a circle around a stone patio, trees shading it all, and the view is wonderful. Whoever designed the huge Walter Payton Center practice dome deserves some props for making it arch into the landscape in an ever-changing blue that matches the sky, a low-flying cloud more than a structure.
It’s all good today. Wetlands down there. Red-winged blackbirds over there.
And the greatest passing attack ever just entered the locker room.