Heavy dose of Marshall bails out Bears’ offense
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org October 7, 2012 10:06PM
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall greets fans after the game Sunday, when Jay Cutler sent 17 balls his way. | John Raoux~AP
Updated: November 9, 2012 6:18AM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Bears quarterback Jay Cutler struggled with a simple question last week: Can you throw too much to a No. 1 receiver as good as Brandon Marshall?
On Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cutler provided the definitive answer without saying a word: No, you cannot.
With the Bears’ offense out of sync in the first half, Cutler found a rhythm with a progression that seemed to be as simple as 1-2-3: Marshall, Marshall and Marshall.
Targeted 17 times by Cutler, including 10 times in the second half, Marshall carried the Bears’ offense with 12 receptions for 144 yards and a 24-yard touchdown as the Bears turned a 3-3 game at halftime into a 41-3 rout at EverBank Field.
It was Marshall’s second consecutive 100-yard receiving game. He had seven receptions for 138 yards and a 31-yard touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night. But it’s the first time Marshall has had back-to-back 100-yard games in victories since Weeks 2-3 in 2008, when he and Cutler were with the Denver Broncos.
‘‘You know what? They brought me here to be a No. 1 receiver, but in our offense we have the ability to game-plan around different guys,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘It could be Matt [Forte], [Michael] Bush, Alshon [Jeffery]. When teams want to take me out, we have the guys who can step up.’’
It wasn’t quite like that against the Jaguars. Last week Marshall caught seven passes when he was targeted eight times. This time it took 17 attempts, as if Cutler knew he needed the big guy to get the Bears out of the hole.
‘‘That’s why we brought him here — to be that guy,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘Whenever he gets one-on-one, we expect him to win 100 percent of the time, hands down. If he comes to the sideline and says, ‘I just didn’t win,’ I say, ‘Why not?’ He’s that guy, and he’s living up to it.’’
Marshall, though, had a tough first half. Cutler’s first pass to him was intercepted by Jaguars cornerback Derek Cox. Marshall had four catches for 44 yards at halftime.