Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Stock Watch: As usual, Marshall recovers
By Jeff Dickerson
After a down game against the Ravens, Brandon Marshall caught 10 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown against the Rams.
1. Josh McCown, QB: McCown's inclusion in this category is a weekly occurrence, but the veteran quarterback continues to exceed expectations. Despite being under heavy pressure Sunday, McCown completed 36-of-47 throws for 352 yards, two touchdowns and one interception (102 passer rating). McCown did everything is his power for the Bears to win that game. For the season, McCown is 97-of-148 for 1,106 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception. In the NFL, statistics usually don't tell the whole story. In this case, they do. McCown isn't just the best story on the Bears in 2013, he's one of the best stories in the NFL. If McCown can lead the Bears past the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday and get the club to 7-5 when Jay Cutler likely returns on Dec. 9 against the Dallas Cowboys, then the 34-year-old quarterback should be named team MVP at the conclusion of the season, if he hasn't locked up the award already.
2. Corey Wootton, DE: Wootton's numbers don't jump off the stat sheet, but he is the Bears' most consistent defensive lineman even though injuries have forced him to move inside to defensive tackle. Wootton held his own in the 42-21 loss to the Rams, which is a lot more than can be said for any of the other Bears defensive linemen. Double teams are a fact of life for Wootton these days, but he still manages to be effective when others around him falter. Wootton's evolution from an injury question mark to a reliable starter over the past two seasons has been enjoyable to watch. A solid and unselfish guy in the locker room, Wootton figures to be a strong contender to receive a new deal at the end of the season.
Brandon Marshall, WR: Marshall generally responds after the kind of so-so performance he had two weeks ago against the Baltimore Ravens when he caught just four passes for 42 yards and had a bad drop. Last Sunday, Marshall had his way with a sub-par Rams secondary en route to 10 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. Marshall is now at 74 catches for 945 yards and nine touchdowns, numbers that were unheard of for a Bears wide receiver after 11 games until Marshall arrived in the spring of 2012. Earl Bennett also deserves mention for having his best game of the season with eight receptions for 58 yards.
1. Shea McClellin, DE: Almost every member of the Bears' front seven on defense, with the exception of Wootton, is a candidate to be mentioned in this space, but McClellin's failures in the run game were the most glaring. Time after time, McClellin crashed down from his defensive end spot only to create massive running lanes for the Rams to bounce the ball back outside and hit the edge. There is nothing wrong with McClellin being aggressive off the snap, but at some point he needs to diagnose the play and figure out where the football is headed. McClellin potentially altered the NFC North landscape with his hit on Aaron Rodgers on Nov. 11, but he doesn't have much to show for his season besides that game.
2. Michael Bush, RB: Marc Trestman made two comments on Monday in the aftermath of the St. Louis defeat that were rather curious. Trestman vigorously defended Bush, who finished Sunday with minus-5 yards on seven carries. Bush is averaging 1.6 yards per carry on the season. In the past three games, Bush has run the ball 11 times for zero yards. After signing a four-year, $14 million ($7 million guaranteed) deal with the Bears, Bush told reporters that he did not consider himself to be a short-yardage back. He was spot-on. Maybe Bush resurrects his career in 2014, but the odds of that happening in Chicago appear to be slim.
3. Jermon Bushrod, LT: Bushrod had his hands full with Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, one of the top pass-rushing defensive ends in the NFL, from start to finish in St. Louis. In general, the offensive line had a rough day against the Rams, although Trestman felt the group did a "great" job. The Bears only surrendered one sack (Quinn) in Week 12, but much of that was due to McCown's ability to sense the pressure and move up in the pocket to deliver the ball before he got drilled. Even though he experienced a rash of problems Sunday, Bushrod has still been a massive upgrade at left tackle over J'Marcus Webb. While some suggest the Bears overpaid in free agency (five years, $35.965 million), the former Pro Bowler gives the Bears instant credibility when it comes to protecting the quarterback's blind side. It was a move the Bears had to make. Bushrod will bounce back, and so will the rest of the Bears offensive line after that shaky effort against the Rams.