I thought the following quote from the Chicago Tribune was significant in terms of quarterback Jay Cutler‘s growth within the new offense:
“On if Brandon Marshall was the primary target on the touchdown pass:
“’We kind of went across the field there. We wanted to get Martellus [Bennett] down the middle again, but they covered that up. We had kind of had a check down to Alshon [Jeffrey] in the left flat and they
covered that up. He was kind of the third late read there. It was just a click late, but he still made a great catch.’”
My fear has been (and still is) that when Cutler is under pressure in the pocket, he’s going to simply throw the ball up for Brandon Marshall, the only receiver he really trusted last year. This play initially did nothing to alleviate that fear. What I think is significant is that Cutler didn’t do what I thought he did. He went through his progression in the face of a blitz and found Marshall as the third read.
I won’t say that I’m completely convinced that Cutler isn’t going to devolve into what we saw last year when he’s trapped in the pocket under pressure and things generally aren’t going well. Not yet. But this seems to me to be significant progress and I’ve got a lot more hope today than I had Saturday.
One of the primary concerns from the Bengal’s perspective was how fill in left tackle Anthony Collins, who hasn’t had a start since 2011, was going to fare against Bears defensive end Julius Peppers. My assumption was that if Collins was going to handle Peppers, he was going to need a lot of help. According to Paul Dehner, Jr. at the Cincinnati Enquirer, that wasn’t the case:
"Collins shut down Peppers and his 111.5 career sacks, keeping him without a number on the stat sheet.
"No sacks, no pressures, no hurries, no tackles, no knockdowns, no anything. Much of that came without assistance from running backs or tight ends.
“’I don’t need no help,” Collins said. “I asked coach (Paul) Alexander, I asked coach (Jay) Gruden, don’t give me no help. Let me prove myself. He’s a $100-million man, but I’m a grown man, too.”
Hard to argue.
Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times writes about the balance in the offense yesterday:
“But this time, Marshall had the most help. And his team won. Hmmmm .?.?.
‘’‘That should be comforting to him as well,’ Cutler said regarding the more balanced production. ‘We had a lot of guys get touches. He went for over a hundred [yards] and had a touchdown — still a big day for him.’’’
Marshall was the focus of the offense last year almost to the exclusion of the other receivers on the field. It was evident that he both liked the production and didn’t like the wear and tear on his body. He was torn on whether he wanted the situation to continue or not continue and his comments indicated that he didn’t know where he fit in to the new plan.
Yesterday was an example of how it should ideally work. He still gets plenty of production by not being the sole focus. My guess is that, as Cutler put it, how it worked out should be comforting to him. Hopefully Marshall does, in fact, now know where he fits in – as the center of a balanced attack.