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Jay Cutler wants to spread the wealth, but it hasn’t happened

Jay Cutler BrandMarshall

Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall

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Tillman not worried about Calvin Johnson breaking records
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Updated: January 28, 2013 4:05PM

With 108 receiving yards Sunday against the Bears, the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson will become the first player to reach 2,000 in a season.

“It’s impressive what they’re doing,” quarterback Jay Cutler said Wednesday, referring to Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

But it’s a feat Cutler wants no part of. Despite having a Pro Bowl receiver in Brandon Marshall, who has huge numbers of his own, Cutler would rather spread the ball around.

“I think in an ideal world you’d like to get some other guys in the mix,” Cutler said. “If you can have three guys at 70 [receptions], four guys at 50, 60, 70, and really spread it around, I think it makes defenses a lot more honest.

“[But] you’re not taking anything away from what they’ve done. It’s impressive.”

Cutler knows spreading the wealth leads to success. The big question is, why hasn’t he been able to do it?

“Don’t know,” Cutler said.

Multiple injuries to Alshon Jeffery and Earl Bennett could be reasons, but the reliance on Marshall is a reason the Bears rank 29th in passing.

If anything, the 4-11 Lions might be the perfect example of how too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Maybe it’s a case of the Lions just being … well, the Lions. But their 11-21 record since 2007 in games Johnson hits 100 receiving yards means help is needed somewhere. Johnson has surpassed 120 receiving yards in eight consecutive games, but the Lions have won just one.

The Bears’ goal should be ensuring that Marshall — his teams are 10-16 when he hits 100 receiving yards — doesn’t stick in the same category as Johnson.

Johnson has 117 catches for 1,892 yards this season; Marshall has 113 catches for 1,466 yards. They account for 39 and 48 percent of their teams’ receiving yards, respectively.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz praised Johnson’s value, saying that “anytime Calvin has got the ball in his hands, it’s good for our football team.” But he also acknowledged that the Lions “need to do a better job of getting the ball to other people.”

Johnson, who broke Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record for yards last week, said it’s not necessarily a bad thing when one receiver is carrying a team’s passing game. But he said hitting 2,000 receiving yards would come with disappointment.

“It’s tough, due to the expectations we had,” Johnson said. “That doesn’t take away all the hard work that I put in to get to the point where I’m at now. But at the same time, it’s a disappointing season.”

Marshall didn’t meet the media as he typically does on Wednesdays, but he likely would agree with Cutler. As good as he has been, Marshall has said how important it is to get others involved.

The Bears’ victory Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals exemplified that. Cutler began the game 1-for-11 — including eight throws at Marshall — but was at his best when he connected with Marshall, Jeffery and Bennett on a scoring drive in the final minutes of the first half.

Johnson wouldn’t call reaching 2,000 receiving yards a goal for the Lions.

“We’ll go out there and do what we do,” Johnson said. “That’s what we’ve done all season, and we’ve made it this far.”

“This far” ends Sunday.

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