- David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune petty much sums up why Brandon Marshall isn’t a Bear:
“The Bears questioned where Marshall’s focus was, or he never would have been dealt. According to [Bears head coach John] Fox‘s football glossary, Marshall qualifies as Pro Bowler more than Super Bowler, a point underscored when the wide receiver wondered in his first meeting with Fox and general manager Ryan Pace whether he could work for Showtime again on Tuesdays during the season. A Super Bowler would have volunteered to quit his part-time TV job and established himself as a team-first, me-second guy. That never happened because that’s not Marshall.”
I’m still not totally convinced that Marshall couldn’t have simply been told, “No. No Showtime. I expect your Fall to be God, family and football 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” But I can’t hardly blame Fox and Bears general manager Ryan Pace for wanting players who don’t need to be told that. In fact, you could argue that if you need to be told, your commitment will never be completely there anyway.
There’s a good part of me that does’t care much for this trade. The Bears are going to miss Marshall’s talent on the field. He certainly played like a warrior right down to the very end of a miserable season and, unlike some of the players on this team, he’s one guy that no one could accuse of lacking heart. The locker room tirades weren’t good but at least they were rooted in a desire to win.
- Anyway Marshall won’t have to fly to New York on Tuesdays now. Marshall never really understood what the problem was with doing the show even as his own statements danced around the real issue. Via Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times:
“‘What’s more detrimental: a guy that goes out Friday night, smokes, drinks, do all that stuff, out ’til 4, 5 in the morning?’ Marshall said last month. ‘Or a guy on his day off flying to New York, an hour and a half flight, talking a little football and coming back?’
“The hardest part, he said, was the show’s ‘tough questions’ surrounding the Bears’ 5-11 season.
“‘How do you answer those questions?’ he said. ‘How do you keep those boundaries between, ‘Hey, I’m on television,’ but the No. 1 priority is to keep the team first.'”
It’s true that spending what was probably more like four or five hours on a plane every Tuesday wasn’t a big deal. What Marshall either didn’t understand or didn’t acknowledge is the distraction that his appearances undoubtedly were for him the rest of the week. The bet here is that if Marshall was honest with himself he’d realize that a part of his mind all week was thinking about how he was going to answer those “tough questions” on Tuesday. That’s a part that wasn’t concentrating on football.
- Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune characterizes Marshall on the way out the door as a “loser”. It’s a message that resonates with me if for no other reason than it’s something I’ve said in my criticism of of quarterback Jay Cutler many times. The Bears are reportedly talking to former Bears coaches and staff about Cutler. Here’s hoping they were as frank as their evaluation as they apparently were with Michael C. Wright at ESPN.com:
“At least 10 former Chicago Bears staffers from the Lovie Smith and Marc Trestman regimes said recently they believe the team can’t consistently compete for championships as long as it fields a lineup with Jay Cutler under center.”
“Two teammates, who also asked to remain anonymous for this story, characterized Cutler as a divisive figure with whom they’d rather not continue to play.”
“One more former staffer said the Bears could win with Cutler as long as the coaches handcuff him to the system.
“But that’s precisely what the staff did when Mike Martz served as offensive coordinator during the 2010 and ’11 seasons, according to another former coach, and Cutler and Martz were often at odds”
“One staffer said that while Cutler was injured and Josh McCown was flourishing as the replacement in 2013, there was a significant faction in the locker room that believed the latter should’ve remained the starter. Another coach said that fairly early in the 2014 season, it was apparent the team had made two mistakes: (1) not re-signing McCown, and (2) continuing to stand behind Cutler after it was clear he was not going to consistently operate within the confines of Trestman’s offense.”
“[E]very one of the former staffers interviewed from the Smith and Trestman regimes pointed out similar flaws in the quarterback. Two ‘R’ words — ‘renegade’ and ‘rogue’ — were often used by the former staffers when asked about Cutler’s ability to play within the confines of an offensive system.”
This is just about the most damning article about Cutler I’ve ever seen. The only think that could make it worse is if the sources gave their names. Most of it confirms what I always thought except that I believe that Cutler not only refuses to operate within the confines of the offense, I’m pretty sure he’s simply not capable of it.
Given that, as Wright also points out, general manager Ryan Pace is close to former offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, who I think we can safely say did not have a high opinion of Cutler, I’ll believe Cutler will be back next year when I see it.
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune wonders if a Cutler trade won’t follow on the heels of the Marshall deal:
“One NFL source said the Titans are the only realistic destination in terms of a trade for Cutler. It would be something if Pace could move Cutler and his guaranteed salary of $15.5 million for 2015. The solution isn’t to start Jimmy Clausen, re-signed to a one-year contract Friday, or David Fales. But the Bears might believe the sooner they shed Cutler and begin the process of searching for their next quarterback, the better. They might desire as clean of a slate as possible, and moving on from Cutler after trading Marshall would sure accomplish that.”
As anyone who reads this blog knows, it’s been my feeling for a long time now that this is exactly what the Bears should do. Despite Biggs statement about the Titans there’s a part of me that wonders if Eagles head coach Chip Kelly isn’t clearing cap space to be used in part for Cutler. He’s not ideal but he’s a better fit for that offense than the guys he currently has. Admittedly that’s a long shot.
However, it’s also possible that the Marshall trade was simply a message to Cutler – the two ‘R’ words used in the previous item to describe Cutler won’t be tolerated under the current regime. We’ll see how it all works out.
- Take this report of the Bears interest in quarterback Marcus Mariota for what its worth.
- John Mullin at csnchicago.com reviews the list of the Bears own free agents and one name popped up that I’d forgotten about: long snapper Jeremy Cain. The Bears might want to get Cain re-signed. I don’t think you want to be caught out without a reliable long snapper and to my eye, Cain made the grade last year.
One Final Thought
Former Bears safety Anthony Walters on playing through pain:
“‘Part of you loves when pain is inflicted on you,’ Walters said. ‘It’s a grown man’s sport. I remember if I got hit so hard or if I hit somebody so hard where there may have been a moment of wariness, I’m like, ‘Wow, that was exhilarating.’
“‘It’s almost a rush and it’s hard to explain that. That’s what we grow up loving.'”