Bears still learning offense, but Brandon Marshall already thrilled with progress
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org August 2, 2013 10:23PM
Updated: September 4, 2013 6:15AM
BOURBONNAIS — Playing on the best team he’s ever been on, in the best offense he’s ever been in, with the best receiving corps he’s every played with and of course, the best quarterback he’s ever known, Brandon Marshall has no room for negative thought.
When a reporter dared to ask about the impact of the Bears’ jumbled offensive line in training camp, Marshall cut him off before he could finish the question.
‘‘So if the offensive line does have trouble ...’’
‘‘We won’t have trouble,’’ Marshall said with a smile. ‘‘Next question.’’
The reality is that Marshall can’t guarantee that. Not on a team that has allowed 53, 49 and 44 sacks the past three seasons. But Brandon Marshall is feeling so good these days, the four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver doesn’t even want to contemplate anything getting in the way.
He had the best season of his career in 2012 — statistically, anyway — 118 receptions for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns. Yet his team failed to make the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season in his seven-year NFL career. No other active player has been in as many Pro Bowls as Marshall without playing in a postseason game.
That’s a void that Marshall anticipates filling this season, as the Bears’ offense tries to prime itself for a quantum leap that could propel the Bears into playoff contention and beyond.
The installation of Marc Trestman’s offense is in a infant stage one week into training camp. But already Marshall is excited by the progress.
‘‘Usually when you change your offense up, or change anything up, it takes time,’’ he said, ‘‘and it’s going to be a work- in-progress throughout this year, throughout the next few years just to catch up with some of the great offenses that’s around the league.
‘‘But I’m shocked to see where we’re at today. We’re putting in extra work, Jay is really leading us and holding us accountable, and I think that’s the reason why we’re making big jumps every single day.’’
Marshall even seems to be looking forward to the possibility he might not catch 118 passes this season. Despite his prolific season, the Bears’ offense statistically was worse in 2012 — dropping from 24th in total yards in 2011 to 28th last season.
But with the addition of free agent tight end Martellus Bennett, the improvement of second-year wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and the likelihood that in Trestman’s offense, Matt Forte will have more than 44 receptions, the Bears’ figure to have more balance in their passing game. Forte’s 44 catches were second on the team — an unhealthy disparity in almost any offense.
‘‘Oh, man, it’s going to help a lot,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘You’ve got guys like Martellus running up the field, Alshon really maturing a lot over the offseason. It’s just going to open up the seams a lot more.
‘‘They’re going to have to play fair. I’ve been seeing a lot of double- and triple-coverage — and not all because of my ability, but because other guys were not in position, cause of the player’s fault or the coaches’ fault. Now, seeing these guys get open, and coach Trestman getting other guys involved near the ball, says a lot. I’m excited to see it, because when you have a happy segment room, the offense just runs smoother.’’
Coming off hip surgery in the offseason, Marshall has been getting designated days off in practice. Friday was his third day off in the past five days. Coach Marc Trestman said that was to allow Marshall to practice at Family Fun Fest at Soldier Field at 6:45 tonight.
‘‘It’s something I think he wanted to do as well, to practice [Saturday night],’’ Trestman said. ‘‘Right now, we expect that he will — that he’s feeling good and we will continue forward with that plan.’’
As for that offensive line ... have the injuries to Jermon Bushrod and Jonathan Scott impaired its development?
‘‘No,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘It’s actually exciting to see some of the guys step in and step up. I’m looking at some of my guys up front and seeing the progress made from last year to this year — as far as some of the younger guys — it’s amazing man.
‘‘Coach [Aaron] Kromer is doing an amazing job, and that’s what happens in the National Football League — guys are going to go down, especially up front, so you need guys to come in and be able to pick it up, no drop off.’’