Earl Bennett Has the Surest Hands in the NFL and Other Points of View

Bears

“THE GOOD

Earl Bennett

“Statistic: Lowest drop rate (3.15 percent) of any NFL receiver

“Comment: Bennett dropped four passes in 127 opportunities, partially explaining why quarterback Jay Cutler has so much confidence in him. ”

THE BAD

Brandon Marshall

“Statistic: No. 1 overall in raw drops (35).

“Comment: Marshall also had the third-most opportunities over that stretch, 303. That made his drop rate 11.55, the 10th-worst mark among receivers. ”

Devin Hester

“Statistic: Had 15th-highest drop rate at 10.3.

“Comment: Overall, Hester dropped 14 of 136 opportunities. If he gets more opportunities this season, as promised, well …”

As a fan who finds drops particularly irritating, I’m not spurised that Bennett rates so well.  And I’m also reminded to brace myself for what I’m sure will be a frustrating year from Marshall in this respect.

“Urlacher was asked when he felt his knee started to return to form.

“‘I don’t think it will ever be normal again,” he said with a hint of sarcasm. “But it probably started feeling better near the end of May.”’

  • ESPN has been running a special series of segments called “5 In, 5 Out.”  For 16 consecutive years five teams that made the playoffs the year before missed the next year.  The ESPN experts have named the Bears as being in (with reservations) and the Lions as being out.

A couple points

1)  The Bears have the THIRD BEST odds of making the Super Bowl on the NFC side in Vegas.  As you might expect, they’re getting better odds than a lot of very good teams.  This means a lot of gamblers are buying into the Bears.

2)  I think a lot of the reason for this sudden positivity is the change in the offense.

I, personally, like Mike Martz and think that most of the criticism of him is unfair.  I also have no faith in Mike Tice and it would appear that Lovie Smith doesn’t have a lot more becuase the first thing he did after promoting him was look for a “passing game coordinator”.  For those who have been hiding under a rock, the passing game is about 80% of running an offense so you might as well say you aren’t completely convinced he can do tha job.

Having said that, I think it likely that the new offense will be a better fit for Cutler.  He obviously can’t throw with anticipation and now he won’t be asked to do it.  Letting him get out of the pocket and wait for something to open up will be more his thing.  That could make a big, big difference.  That is the single biggest reason for optimism.

There are probably at least two reasons for this.

1. The top 100 were rated as players not QBs. That probably is what got guys like Tim Tebow onto the list despite being ranked the 30th best QB by Jaworski.

2. The top 100 was voted on by Cutler’s peers.  As with the attacks on Cutler by fellow players after taking himself out of the second half of a Bears playoff game two years ago, we are faced with the fact that for whatever reason, the other NFL players around the league just don’t like Cutler

Elsewhere

One Final Thought

Jared S. Hopkins at the Chicago Sun-Times brings us a very thorough look at the life of the “new” Brandon Marshall.  He re-states the problem with Marshall’s off field issues.

“A pattern has emerged: trouble, then promises he has changed, charges that go away, then more trouble. Two days before the Dolphins traded him to the Bears in March, a woman accused Marshall of punching her outside a New York nightclub at nearly 4 a.m.”

“‘I want you to observe me for who I am,’ he says in the car. ‘There is a perception out there that is unfair, and there really is another side that I think will help your story.'”

I’m as sure as an average fan can be that Marshall is sincere in his wish to be a better citizen.  But having said that, there are a lot of things in this article that lead me to be very doubtful that he’s done it.  This statement is one of them.  What Marshall doesn’t understand is that the perceptions of him are not unfair. They’re entirely based upon fact and he is what the facts say he is.  Its not about perception.  Its about changing who you are.  This is something that he needs to acknowledge.

Another striking feature of the article is the parallels between Marshall’s history and that of his father.  Here’s one example amongst many:

COURT RECORDS, PENNSYLVANIA: On Nov. 17, 1987, Marshall was riding in the back seat of a car with his younger sister, London, on Larimer Avenue, the main strip in their neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Up front, an argument between his parents escalated.

According to court records, Freddie Marshall punched his wife, Diane, in the eye. Freddie stopped the car in traffic, then got out and walked around to the passenger side and punched Diane in her other eye. She kicked at him, but Freddie grabbed her feet and pulled off her skirt. Diane hustled to the driver’s side and drove to a stop sign. Freddie caught up to her, got back in and hit her again, leaving bruises under her eyes.

In the back seat, the two children screamed and cried. Marshall was 3. His father would be ordered by the court to stay away from the family home for four months as part of an order of protection.”

Marshall flat out refuses to answer questions about his relationship with his father.

“What did your dad teach you about marriage? ‘This isn’t no Q-and-A.’

“I sigh. Marshall turns on the TV. He says he is still skeptical of my story. I try to explain that his family’s past is just one piece, not the only one. He cuts me off midsentence, uninterested. ‘If you’re going to go writing about John Kennedy right now, you’re not going to look at his father’s police reports. You’re not going to talk to his ex-wife.'”

This statement is laughable.  As anyone could tell you, most biographies of not just Kennedy but of anyone would start with the childhood and its influence on later life.  Indeed, you would be hard pressed to find one that didn’t.

Eventually even he is eventually forced to acknowledge that this is a factor.

“’My upbringing, it definitely contributes to who I am today,’ he concedes eventually. But answering questions about that topic, he says, lends credibility to the perception people have of him as a volatile person.”

Once again, what’s bothersome to me is the way that Marshall talks about his nature.  He’s worried about image – perception.  But its not perception.  It is fact.  Marshall is a volatile person.

Bottom line, I doubt very much that Marshall will ever be what he wants to be without facing who he is first.  And that makes me continue to wonder how much of a struggle the Bears still have ahead of them with their “new” wide receiver.

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