Marshall’s arrival finally gave quarterback Jay Cutler the No. 1 receiver he has lacked since his stint in Chicago began. Also, the attention Marshall attracts was expected to give the other receivers a chance to make plays.
With three games left in the season, only one of these scenarios has played out as planned.
The Cutler-Marshall combo has picked up where it left off in Denver, with Marshall on pace to obliterate the Bears' receiving record book en route to his fourth 100-catch season.
But while Marshall has stepped in and performed, the same cannot be said for the rest of the Bears' receiving corps.
The “Hester Package” that offensive coordinator Mike Tice raved about during the offseason has been non-existent, as Hester has only managed 23 receptions. Tight end Kellen Davis seems useless at times, managing only 17 catches in 41 targets. Alshon Jeffery has shown flashes but has been hampered by injuries all season.
Cutler’s former favorite target Earl Bennett, who has battled injuries as well, hasn’t been his sure-handed self as of late.
The shortcomings of this group have been especially evident during the Bears' current two-game slide. Earl Bennett dropped a wide-open touchdown pass in the overtime loss to Seattle, and both Devin Hester and Alshon Jeffrey dropped game-changing passes during the 21-14 loss to the Vikings.
With such low productivity from the rest of the receiving corps, Cutler has been forced to lean on Marshall too often. Marshall is the second most targeted receiver in the NFL with 158 targets. The closest person on the Bears roster is running back Matt Forte with 49.
With the Green Bay Packers coming to Soldier Field with the division on the line, the Bears need a big game from receivers other than Brandon Marshall. Marshall has done his best to bait the Packers into playing man coverage Sunday, but chances are the Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers will stick to the two-man scheme that limited Marshall to two catches for 24 yards on just 5 targets.
With that being the case, Cutler must spread the ball around and give his other receivers a chance to make plays. And unless the receivers step up and begin to make those plays, the Bears will continue their slide and hand over the division to the Packers.
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