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Does Jay Cutler target Brandon Marshall too much?

Updated: August 16, 2013 4:56PM



For as much as coach Marc Trestman preaches spreading the ball around, he wasn’t overly bothered by quarterback Jay Cutler’s use of the “Marshall Plan” in the Bears’ 33-28 victory against the San Diego Chargers at Soldier Field on Thursday.

Cutler threw five passes all game and all five were sent toward wide receiver/favorite target Brandon Marshall. He completed four of them for 38 yards and a five-yard touchdown.

At first glance, what happened appears worrisome considering last season and how much Trestman stresses spreading the ball. But Marshall didn’t play in the Bears’ first preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers, and Trestman wanted to make sure he was involved.

Marshall also was clearly open on two of his receptions, and one came on a screen play. Marshall also had single coverage on the goal line for his touchdown.

Trestman also said certain situations affected their play-calling.

“The field position, we’re on a short field, and we were limited to some of the plays we wanted to call in the first 15 and we really limited ourselves,” Trestman said. “We knew going in that if we had as many red-zone opportunities that we had, we were going to have to run the ball because we didn’t go in there with a normal number of plays necessary that we would have used, or would have wanted to use in a preseason game, so we were left to third-down runs and doing other things to try to split a defense without exposing or using much of our red-zone offense. As I look back, you always want to score touchdowns there and we tried to do it, but we really didn’t do it with a full compliment of plays.”

Trestman definitely wasn’t happy with Cutler’s interception. Cutler forced the ball to Marshall in double coverage, resembling throws he’s made in the past. Linebacker Donald Butler trailed Marshall and made the pick at the Chargers’ 6-yard line.

But Trestman also blamed himself for it.

“That specific play was a force against a coverage that I think I can coach better — I really do,” Trestman said. “He’s going to take accountability for it because I know that’s who he is. But I’m just saying we have to get better at it. There’s a time to force the ball and use your arm and put it up into man-to-man coverage when there’s a single defender and a single player, but that wasn’t really one of those situations.

“I think that I’m not going to get overly upset about it at this point. Upset is not the word I’m looking for, but concerned about it at this point.”

Cutler said he didn’t “misread” the coverage on his interception.

“I knew what I was doing,” he said. “I kind of got clipped [from behind] and let it go. Those are the ones you want to check down and keep the drive alive.”

On his touchdown pass, Cutler threw to Marshall’s back shoulder. A few plays earlier, Cutler made a key completion to Marshall for a first down on third-and-five. Cutler’s longest completion went for 19 yards to a wide-open Marshall.

Cutler also was sacked twice during the Bears’ game-opening series, including one in which he stepped up despite good protection.

Cutler said he felt the offense was more rhythm against the Chargers, especially with Matt Forte productive in the run game.

“Still, it was a quick quarter,” Cutler said. “We moved the ball. I thought Matt had a great day. We wanted to establish the run. Had a bad ball to Brandon [Marshall] on the pick. I should have checked that ball down, try to move on, keep the drive going. Guys are getting better. We’ll take a look at this film and keep working.”



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