Too much Marshall? Cutler's not having it

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
3:51
PM ET
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler became petulant Thursday when the question was posed as to whether he forces the ball too much to new receiver Brandon Marshall.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
David Banks/Getty ImagesBrandon Marshall has been targeted 31 times this season, tied for ninth in the NFL.
So nothing becomes lost in translation, we’ll do our best to paraphrase the exchange between the quarterback and a reporter.

Reporter: Do you throw too many passes Marshall’s direction?

Cutler: “No.”

Reporter: What if Marshall’s getting extra attention from the defense?

Cutler: “Like what kind of attention?”

Reporter: Like extra coverage.

Cutler: “What coverage?”

Reporter: Is it better to throw to someone else when defenses devote more attention to Marshall?

Cutler: “I need to know specifics. What are you getting at? I don’t know. It depends on what the coverage is. It depends on a lot of things. There’s a lot of variables. You can’t just make a vague statement of ‘If they’re playing and they’re giving him extra attention, can you go to him?’ It depends on what the route is, what coverage it is. What’s the down and distance? There’s a lot of things that go into it.”

Reporter: Is the risk worthwhile to sometimes force the ball?

Cutler: “Like I said, it depends on the situation.”

Reporter: Thanks for the enlightenment.

Cutler: “Thank you. Thank you for your vague question. I’m sure you’ll be able to get a lot out of that.”

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Apparently, Cutler wasn’t pleased with the line of questioning, but the inquiries certainly seemed legitimate considering Marshall is the NFL’s ninth-most targeted receiver (31 targets) yet has caught just 16 passes and has three drops. Marshall’s catch-to-target ratio seems low given the frequency of passes thrown his direction.

St. Louis Rams receiver Danny Amendola has been targeted 34 times but he’s come down with 25 receptions. Victor Cruz of the New York Giants has caught 23 of the 36 passes thrown his way. Minnesota’s Percy Harvin has a ratio of 27 to 31.

In fact, 13 other players around the league (Dennis Pitta, Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, Darren McFadden, Wes Welker, Brandon Pettigrew, Eric Decker, Darren Sproles, Michael Crabtree, Nate Burleson and Mike Wallace) have been targeted fewer times than Marshall yet have caught just as many if not more passes than the Bears receiver.

So there’s definitely a chance that forced passes from Cutler actually do skew Marshall’s catch-to-target ratio.

Cutler, apparently, doesn’t think so.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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