Cutler-Marshall, Stafford-Johnson ready for face-off on Monday night
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org October 18, 2012 9:42PM
Bears receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler chat on the sidelines in the second quarter of the Chicago Bears-Denver Broncos game Thursday August 9, 2012 in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: November 20, 2012 11:17AM
Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall won’t go into detail and name every player, but he has 10 receivers whom he watches, analyzes and learns from on his iPad.
He will tell you that the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson is included.
“He’s as advertised,” Marshall said Thursday. “I really like what he’s doing. I really like where his career is heading. He had an amazing year last year, and a lot of us are trying to keep up with the pace he set.”
Marshall will try to keep pace with Johnson on Monday night at Soldier Field.
Not only is it a matchup of hated division rivals, but it’s a face-off between two of the better quarterback-wide receiver duos in the NFL in Marshall and Jay Cutler and Johnson and Matthew Stafford.
“I’m watching some of the ‘Monday Night Football’ commercials,’’ Marshall said, ‘‘and they have Johnson and I matched up. It’s pretty cool. I look at it as an honor.
“I like some of the attention, but when [you have] that spotlight on you, you have to show up, and you have to perform.”
Statistically, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (142-for-215, 1,726 yards, 12 touchdowns) and receiver A.J. Green (43 catches, 67 targets, 628 yards, six touchdowns) are the most productive duo.
But in the pass-happy NFL, there are plenty of talented tandems for defenses to contend with, and the Cutler-Marshall and Stafford-Johnson tandems are among them.
The biggest difference between them is that Cutler and Marshall are rekindling their connection after they went their separate ways after two productive seasons with the Denver Broncos (2007 and ’08).
Stafford and Johnson established themselves last season as Stafford surpassed 5,000 passing yards and had 41 touchdown passes.
Johnson had 1,681 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.
A baffling stat this season is that Johnson, despite 558 receiving yards and 35 catches, has only one touchdown.
Of Stafford’s 64 career touchdown passes in the regular season, Johnson has caught 23 of them.
Stafford is off his outstanding pace from last season with only four touchdown passes and 1,493 passing yards.
But their stats don’t negate what they’re capable of. The Lions have been inconsistent.
“They’ve been together awhile,” said Cutler, who has a 105.0 career passer rating against Detroit. “They’ve put up some big numbers. They feature him a lot. They move Calvin around really well, so you can’t get a bead on him defensively of where he’s going to line up. Put him in the slot, put him in bunches. They’re doing a good job.”
The Bears, though, are doing the same thing with Marshall and reaping similar benefits.
Marshall just became the first Bears receiver to have consecutive 100-yard receiving games since Marcus Robinson did it in 1999.
“As far as these new tandems, these new combinations that we see today in A.J. and Dalton, Stafford and Calvin, for me, when I look at us, it’d be scary to think where we would be if we stayed together,” said Marshall, who is averaging 99.2 receiving yards per game.
“There are just some things you have to have a feel for. It’s special playing with Jay.”