NFC North: Brandon Marshall

Folks bill the upcoming matchup between the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints on "Monday Night Football" as the Underachiever Bowl, and receiver Brandon Marshall doesn't disagree with that description of these two disappointing clubs.

In fact, Marshall believes the Bears and Saints don't deserve the national stage of ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

Marshall
"Yeah, they should take us both off 'Monday Night Football' right now," Marshall said Monday during "The Brandon Marshall Show" on ESPN 1000.

Both teams enter the upcoming clash at Soldier Field with 5-8 records. The only difference is the Saints are still vying for a postseason spot, while the Bears were officially eliminated from contention on Sunday by virtue of Detroit's victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"It does shock me, but this story is old," Marshall said. "We've been dealing with this story for weeks now."

Here's today's spin around the Chicago Bears beat:

-- ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson brings us his stock report. In it, he's got the stock of Bears ownership falling.
Dickerson writes: The Bears have now missed the playoffs seven times in the past eight seasons. When a charter franchise of the National Football League reaches the postseason as infrequently as teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars (also one postseason berth in eight years), the problems run deep. Since the Bears fired [Mike] Ditka as coach at the end of the 1992 season, the club that resides in the NFL's second largest media market has qualified for the playoffs a grand total of five times. And people wonder why the 1985 Bears are treated like rock stars to this day. At this rate, Chicago will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Super Bowl XX before the Vince Lombardi Trophy returns to Halas Hall. The Bears are going backward. This is easily the worst season of Bears football since Lovie Smith's first year in 2004 (5-11). The difference is Smith's team 10 years ago had zero expectations. The 2014 Bears were supposed to be contenders. Instead, fans are forced to watch the club simply play out the string. Blame whomever you want, but the real problems originate at the very top. What else needs to be said?

Can't say I disagree one bit with Dickerson's assessment here. Chicago's fans deserve better.

-- Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune writes that Bears coach Marc Trestman remained firm in his support of quarterback Jay Cutler. With three games remaining, it will be difficult for the Bears to maintain a working environment conducive to success given all the criticism and speculation.

-- Shuffling along the offensive line continues. Ryan Groy is expected to start at left guard against the Saints.

-- Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times leads off his notebook with a nice item about recently-signed kicker Jay Feely.

-- Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times wants fans to adopt Cleveland's quarterback Johnny Manziel as an escape from the disappointment of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
Morrissey writes: I'm not suggesting that the Bears trade for Manziel. Johnny Football and George "What's a Football?" McCaskey together in marriage? It would never happen. What I am suggesting is that we here in Chicago adopt the Cleveland Browns quarterback, purely for escape purposes.

Thirteen games into a miserable Bears season and six seasons into Cutler's erratic career in Chicago, the mind looks for ways to stop the pain. Mine has landed on Manziel, the athletic, hard-partying, polarizing rookie whose career probably will end in a spectacular ball of flame. That's pain-killing entertainment, folks.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Here are five quick questions with Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall:

What’s your mindset going into this week's game?

Marshall: Beat Dallas. Yeah, we’ve got a big game, prime time (Thursday night). So we’ve definitely got to put our best game forward, if that makes any sense.

Marshall
Is the team’s current situation more difficult for the younger players?

Marshall: I think it’s easier for young players because they’re so green. Some of these guys probably don’t understand or probably don’t even know who’s in our division. I know when I first got into the league, I was just out there running around and it was Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego. I think I figured out Kansas City was in our division probably like Week 9. So when you get older, it hurts a little more. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt those younger guys. But you look at the game a little differently as you grow.

Personally, what can you get out of these last few games?

Marshall: Well, mathematically, we’re not out of it. It’s a long shot, may even take a miracle. We’ve still got to continue to play. It is our job. For me, and just like everyone else in Chicago, we want to win. It’s just tough right now for us to be in the position we’re in right now: maybe or maybe not playing for something. I don’t know. The season’s almost over. We’re just not very good right now. We’ve just got to continue to work.

What do you see out of Dallas’ defense?

Marshall: Those guys are playing. I know there were a lot of questions before this season. You look at where they ended last year, even where they started this year, and coach got those guys really playing, man. It reminds me of a really good defense, man. They’re just playing really good, and it seems they’re all doing their part. It’s fun to watch, and it’s going to be hard to play against this Thursday. It’s a new team. Look at us. We were a top-10 offense and now we’re not. So every year it changes. At the beginning of the season, they were a totally different defense. Now, they’re one of the best defenses out there. You just can’t look at the Philadelphia game and be tricked, because those guys are really good.

Is there a cumulative effect with all the losses the Bears have experienced?

Marshall: It’s definitely tough, but all I’m focused on is Dallas this week. If you continue to think about those things, it’ll definitely affect you in a negative way. So I’m onto Dallas, and that’s where my focus is.
DETROIT -- Observed and heard in the locker room after Chicago's 34-17 loss to Detroit at Ford Field:

Young
Inconsistency on defense played a major role in the Bears' loss to the Detroit Lions, and despite the club's 5-7 record, the players in the locker room seemed even-keeled, but that's a product of professionalism according to defensive end Willie Young.

"No frustration, no frustration," Young said. "I'm not frustrated one bit. You have to be a professional. If you get frustrated, to me that's like being a wimp."

Quick conversation: Cornerback Tim Jennings and defensive end Jared Allen stood in one corner of the locker room discussing different aspects of the game. The conversation wasn't animated, and it appeared the two were talking strategy.

Marshall cuts it short: Receiver Brandon Marshall spent less than two minutes addressing the media at his locker in the aftermath of the game, and the tenor of his remarks were of extreme disappointment as opposed to anger. Marshall caught six passes for 42 yards.

When: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday Where: Soldier Field, Chicago TV: Fox

The records scrub away some of the shine for Sunday's matchup at Soldier Field between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears, but the storylines involved remain interesting for what should be a competitive contest.

First off, there's the obvious with Lovie Smith coming to town to coach against his former team, which is led by former Bears backup quarterback Josh McCown. But even with the Bucs owning a 2-8 record, they're just two games out of first place in the NFC South.

The Bears, meanwhile, are looking to win back-to-back contests for the first time this season since Weeks 2 and 3.

Remember, the Bears fired Smith after a 2012 season in which he led the team to a 10-6 record. The club hasn't recorded a double-digit win season since, and doesn't appear to be on the way to doing it this year, either.

Bears reporter Michael C. Wright takes a look at the matchup with Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinkas:

Wright: Pat, the Buccaneers are coming off a big road win at Washington, and I've long thought they were a much more talented team than the record indicated. Obviously, it's probably too late to save the season. But how's the atmosphere out there coming off this win, and what's the next step for the Bucs?

Yasinkas: The atmosphere is a lot better than you would expect from a 2-8 team. That's mainly due to the fact the Bucs are only two games behind Atlanta and New Orleans in the NFC South. And, you're right, this is a talented team. If the Bucs can put that talent together down the stretch, they could end up being a playoff team. It may sound crazy, but they're not far off the pace in the NFC South.

I thought last year's strong finish by Chicago would carry over into this season. But it hasn't. What's gone wrong for the Bears?

Wright: Where do I start? I think people put too much faith in the offense, expecting it to perform at the same level or better than it did in 2013. But what folks don't understand is the Bears sort of caught teams by surprise last season because opponents didn't know exactly what to expect out of a Marc Trestman offense. Opponents adjusted in 2014 to what the Bears put on film in 2013, and they've had trouble coming up with a sufficient counterpunch. On the other side of the ball, the Bears revamped the front four, but haven't received the production commensurate with the investment. The Bears miscalculated what the staff would be able to get out of the linebacking corps, which has struggled, not to mention the secondary.

Surely, there's quite a bit of disappointment about Tampa Bay's record, especially when considering how the Bucs have squandered fourth-quarter leads five times this season. Why haven't the Bucs been able to hold leads, and overall, what's the thought out there regarding the job done so far by former Bears coach Lovie Smith?

Yasinkas: The Bucs have had their share of disappointing losses. They've blown five fourth-quarter leads and the reasons for that are collapses by the defense and an inability by the offense to protect a lead. That has been very disappointing and you can make a strong case that the Bucs should have a much better record than they do. Fans aren't very pleased with what Lovie Smith has done so far. He has been stubborn, sticking to a Tampa 2 defense that may be antiquated and an offense that's conservative. But the Washington game was a good example of what "Lovie Ball" can be when it works properly. Smith's record isn't very good, but he's not on the hot seat. Ownership believes he can show some promise down the stretch and turn things around with another offseason.

There has been a lot of talk about Jay Cutler's future in Chicago. Does he have one?

Wright: Boy, that's a good question that I'm not sure I can answer at this point. Obviously with the contract, Cutler is sort of handcuffed to the team for the next couple of seasons. But if Cutler doesn't improve down the stretch, I could see the Bears looking for ways to cut ties (a trade perhaps?). The Bears gave Cutler a $126.7 million contract, and he certainly hasn't produced at the level you'd expect a player making that type of money. So if the arrow isn't pointing up for Cutler at the conclusion of the season, it certainly wouldn't surprise me if the Bears entered 2015 with an open competition at the position or looked to trade him in the offseason.

Speaking of quarterbacks, when Josh McCown left Chicago to sign with the Buccaneers, it seemed like an ideal match, especially when considering how he performed in 2013 as the fill-in for Cutler. Can you give me a rundown as to why has McCown struggled this season?

Yasinkas: McCown admitted recently that he was pressing too much in the first three games. He was trying to make something happen out of nothing and that led to some mistakes. But McCown got five games to sit back and watch while he dealt with a thumb injury. In the past two games, he has been much more efficient. The Washington game was similar to what he did in Chicago last year. If he can continue to do that the rest of the season, the Bucs will be very happy.

I know it's only Year 2, but this league doesn't have much patience anymore. Is Marc Trestman on the hot seat?

Wright: Similar to Cutler's situation, I think it all depends on how the team performs down the stretch. At this point, I don't think general manager Phil Emery is inclined to fire Trestman in part because of the investment in Cutler. Prior to Trestman's arrival, Cutler had played for three different offensive coordinators in three different systems over four seasons. So for Emery, gaining some level of stability for Cutler was important, which is what the GM believed he did in bringing aboard Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Remember, the Bears signed Cutler to a seven-year contract, and Emery doesn't want his quarterback playing in yet another system for another coach. So unless the Bears totally nose dive over the last six games, Trestman's job is safe. Certainly, there will be scapegoats let go at the conclusion of the season regardless of what happens. But I don't think Trestman is on the hot seat. He'll get another season unless things go totally awry.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery returned to the practice field inside the Walter Payton Center on Thursday, a day after the club held them out because of ankle and hamstring ailments.

Marshall and Jeffery participated in a limited capacity, but neither is expected to miss Sunday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field.

Other limited participants included right tackle Jordan Mills (ribs) and guard Eben Britton (illness). In other injury news, the Bears held out cornerback Demontre Hurst (knee), defensive end Trevor Scott (knee), receiver Chris Williams (hamstring) and Darryl Sharpton (hamstring).

The Bears also held out veteran defensive end Jared Allen, but his absence wasn’t injury related.

Rookie defensive end Ego Ferguson (illness) returned to the practice field Thursday after being held out Wednesday, and receiver Josh Morgan (shoulder) participated fully Thursday after working Wednesday in a limited capacity.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears kicked off preparation Wednesday to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without the services of receivers Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring), as both were held out of the club’s practice inside the Walter Payton Center.

The Bears also held out defensive tackle Ego Ferguson (illness), defensive end Trevor Scott (knee), linebacker Darryl Sharpton (hamstring) and receiver Chris Williams (hamstring).

Right tackle Jordan Mills (ribs), guard Eben Britton (illness) and receiver Josh Morgan (shoulder) practiced in a limited capacity.

Linebacker Lance Briggs, running back Matt Forte and defensive lineman Jeremiah Ratliff were non-participants on Wednesday, but their inactivity was not injury related.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Marc Trestman received positive news Monday during his daily meeting with head athletic trainer Chris Hanks regarding Brandon Marshall's injured left ankle, and the coach is optimistic the receiver will play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Marshall
Marshall also said during his radio show on ESPN 1000 that he’s “going to be out there” Sunday when the Bears host the Vikings at Soldier Field.

“Brandon’s got an ankle, but we’re very optimistic based on talking to the trainers today,” Trestman said.

Marshall suffered the ankle injury late in the club’s 55-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers, and it’s not the same ankle the receiver injured in the season opener against the Buffalo Bills. During “The Brandon Marshall Show” on ESPN 1000 on Monday, Marshall said his most recent ankle injury isn’t as severe as the high ankle sprain suffered against the Bills.

“It’s a different ankle. It’s not as bad as the right one,” Marshall said. “The right one was like a high ankle sprain. I don’t believe this one was a high ankle sprain. It hurts really bad, but I’m going to do what I always do; just go at it really hard and treat it really good.”

Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears

November, 9, 2014
Nov 9
11:53
PM ET

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 55-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

What it means: Barring a miracle and perhaps this team winning out over the next seven games, it's pretty much over for the Bears. Nobody within the organization would admit it publicly, but the players appear to have quit on the coaching staff, and now the Bears dwell near the bottom of the NFC with other 3-6 clubs such as Atlanta, St. Louis, Washington and the New York Giants all hovering above last-place Tampa Bay.

Sure, the Bears play five of their final seven at home, where they're winless, but they destroyed any margin for error down the stretch. Even if the Bears managed to win the remainder of their games, they'd still finish 10-6, which wouldn't make them a lock for the postseason. Let's not forget ownership fired Lovie Smith after his 10-6 finish in 2012, and the club hasn't put together a double-digit win season since.

Stock watch: The defense certainly deserves criticism here for one of the worst performances by this team in recent years. But let's focus on the man ultimately responsible for assembling the group, general manager Phil Emery, whose stock is tumbling. Hundreds of words could be written about how Emery missed on first-round pick Shea McClellin. But let's just take a quick look at Emery's haul from free agency last spring. Looking to revamp the front four, Emery spent $34 million guaranteed on Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. Houston, only one sack in eight games, is out for the season and Allen has been a non-factor, while Young, the least expensive of the trio, leads the team in sacks. Emery also brought in Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray, along with a host of other safeties you've never heard of, and signed Tim Jennings to a deal worth $11.8 million guaranteed.

So while Emery's moves in free agency and the draft (Kyle Fuller will be a star one day) were billed as the start of the defense finally turning things around after a horrid 2013, the reality is not much was done to address that side of the ball. Realistically, it's a difficult spot for Emery to navigate considering all the dollars allocated to the offense. But hey, that's his job.

Overthinking it? Green Bay's defense ranked last against the rush. Yet after running Matt Forte for a 4-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage, the Bears passed the ball on four of the next five downs before punting. The next time the Bears took possession, they were behind just 7-0. But Jay Cutler threw passes on their first two snaps with the second resulting in an interception. Four plays later, the Packers would take a 14-0 lead, which would force Chicago into a passing game.

Coming out of the bye, the Bears talked all week about running the ball more, yet did the opposite against the Packers. Bears coach Marc Trestman also talked about helping Cutler more with the play calling, but that didn't happen.

Game ball: Brandon Marshall left the game early in the fourth quarter due to an ankle injury, but caught eight passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. The truth is nobody on this team deserves a game ball, but Marshall gets this one by default.

What's next: The Bears head back to Halas Hall for weight lifting and treatment on Monday, before taking the day off Tuesday. The club won't start preparation until Wednesday for their next outing against the Minnesota Vikings.
There’s no better way to kick off our look around the Bears beat with this piece by ESPN.com’s David Fleming, who spent the bye week with tight end Martellus Bennett as he put the finishing touches on his animated movie “Zoovie”.

Bennett
 Bennett told me he spent his bye week working on the film, which he hopes to enter in some upcoming festivals.

While most of the piece chronicles Bennett’s creative process, the tight end does talk a little football. When he does, Bennett drops a money quote about the importance of Sunday’s game at Green Bay. With the Bears sitting at 3-5, Bennett knows there’s the possibility some of his teammates have given up on the season.

"There are guys, and I've seen it, there are guys in this situation [on other teams], and coaches too, who are already packing it in and shutting it down and already in offseason mode, like, 'What beach or what club or what golf course am I going to?' That's why the Packers game will tell us a lot,” Bennett said. “That's what I want to see: Who's coming back with that mentality that we could still make the playoffs, and who's already packed it in and already thinking about partying and hitting the club in the offseason?"

By the way, Bennett says in the piece he’s fully planning on the Bears advancing to the playoffs.

If you get a minute, take a look at the piece because it’s definitely worth a read to get an idea of what makes Bennett click.

-- ESPNChicago.com’s Jon Greenberg isn’t confident about the team’s chances Sunday at Green Bay with Jay Cutler at the helm. Can’t say I blame him.

Greenberg writes: As you might be able to infer, I'm not too positive about these Bears' chances this week. I don't buy the hype about a post-bye-week revival. That's typical NFL empty blather. Nothing has changed for this team. If it finishes 8-8, consider that an accomplishment.

With a game against the hated Packers on tap, there's more buzz in Chicago about Joe Maddon buying shots and Blackhawks fans buying Winter Classic jerseys.

Who can blame us? How could anyone be confident with Cutler starting in Green Bay?

The Bears are 1-9 against the Packers with Cutler as the starter -- including the NFC championship loss he couldn't finish -- thanks in part to his 20 interceptions and slapdash play. In three games at Lambeau Field, all losses, he's completed 48 percent of his passes for 571 yards, two touchdowns and 10 picks.

-- Matt Forte says talk is cheap, ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson takes writes.

-- Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune chronicles Brandon Marshall’s brief session with the media on Thursday at Halas Hall.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears punched the 21-day clock to bring back Marquess Wilson on Wednesday, putting him through a practice for the first time since August, when the second-year receiver suffered a fractured clavicle at training camp.

Wilson
Bears coach Marc Trestman said Monday it’s unlikely Wilson -- who is coming off short-term injured reserve -- will play Sunday when the team faces the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Asked again about Wilson on Wednesday, Trestman said, “I can’t say that today.”

“His 21-day clock will start today, and it’ll be day to day with him to see how he progresses,” the coach added. “It’ll be up to trainers and doctors to assess him on a daily basis.”

Wilson became eligible to return to practice back in Week 7, but once a player on short-term injured reserve hits the field, the club has 21 days to activate him or shut him down for the remainder of the season.

“It felt good getting back in the swing of things, getting around the guys and actually practicing a little,” Wilson said. “I feel my wind was pretty good for the most part, and [I’m] just looking to improve each day I’m out there.”

Wilson spent several minutes after Wednesday’s workout catching passes from backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen. After Wilson finished catching balls, he spent time running extra sprints to improve his cardiovascular conditioning.

Wilson came into the season with high expectations after catching two passes last season as a rookie. Trestman, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall spoke highly of Wilson’s prospects for 2014 throughout the offseason and at training camp. But the fractured clavicle derailed any plans for featuring Wilson more prominently in the offense.

With Wilson out of the picture, the team has utilized Santonio Holmes and Josh Morgan in the slot, and the duo has combined for 92 yards on 12 receptions and one touchdown. Wilson developed a rapport with Cutler during the offseason, but it’s unclear what impact he’ll have in the slot as the team hasn’t thrown much to the inside receivers in the first eight games.

During Wilson’s time away, the most he could do was simply learn the game.

“Basically, I got to watch football in a whole different perspective, and really understand coverages, defenses and everything, and simple routes, different ways you can run a route, or getting off press coverage or messing with the DB,” Wilson explained.

Asked whether he could provide a spark for Chicago’s inconsistent offense, Wilson said, “I hope so.”

“We’re still a great offense. We still have special weapons on that side of the ball. We have all the confidence in the world to pull it back together,” Wilson said. “You’ve got everything you need with Brandon [Marshall], Alshon [Jeffery], Marty [Martellus Bennett] and Matt [Forte]. It wouldn’t hurt to have another person. You’ve got Santonio Holmes and Josh Morgan. Those two are fully capable of coming through and making plays when needed. You just have a lot of offensive weapons on this team that are just waiting to have their turn.”
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Fresh off a 51-23 throttling at the hands of the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery conducted a dual press conference at Halas Hall, where they expressed disappointment over the team’s inconsistent performances through the first half of the season, while stressing the need to remain unified.

“We’re a 3-5 football team, and that’s what our record states,” Emery said. “The NFL’s about winning games, and we deserve the criticism we have and should have from that record. I’m extremely disappointed in where we’re at as a football team right now, and that disappointment starts with being extremely disappointed for our fans. They, like us, held high optimism for the start of our season and where we would be at that midpoint, and we’ve let them down in that regard. We understand and share their frustrations and clearly understand our failures at this point.”

But what will the Bears do to turn things around for the second half? Trestman believes a long, hard critical self-evaluation is in order.

“We’ve got a chance to look back and really take a systematic look at the issues that we’ve had and come up with some bona fide solutions at this present time because that’s the best we can do,” he said. “We weren’t able to get it done the way we wanted to get it done over the first eight weeks of the season. There’s no doubt about it. There’s no consistency there. There’s moments of very good play, of solid play across the board, and there’s moments of very, very poor play, like we’ve seen over the last couple weeks.”

Midseason MVP: Running back Matt Forte is certainly worthy, given his consistency over the first eight games (1,052 all-purpose yards). But defensive end Willie Young receives the nod here. A reserve behind high-priced free-agent acquisitions Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston, Young outperformed his counterparts at the position through the first half of the season and is tied for eighth in the NFL with a team-high seven sacks. Young ranks third on the team in tackles (32), a testament to his high-motor style which allows the fifth-year veteran to make plays from sideline to sideline on a consistent basis.

Biggest disappointment: After a surprisingly productive 2013 campaign which seemed to quiet many doubters, quarterback Jay Cutler received a seven-year deal worth $126.7 million and the high expectations that accompany such an investment. Cutler produced respectable numbers (67.2 completion percentage, 95.8 passer rating) through the first half of the season, but continues to display his penchant for making game-changing mistakes. Cutler turned the ball over on multiple occasions in each of the team’s five losses, leading to 44 points by opponents despite the expectation he would finally soar in Year 2 playing in Trestman’s offense. The staff and front office continue to show unwavering support for Cutler. If Emery is second-guessing the team’s investment in Cutler, he certainly hasn’t shown it.

Best moment: Uncertainty permeated the atmosphere in the 90 minutes prior to the Week 2 opening of Levi’s Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers with questions regarding the availability of receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery as both were questionable due to ankle and hamstring injuries. After putting the receivers through strenuous pregame workouts, the Bears made the late decision to start Jeffery and Marshall. The move paid huge dividends as Marshall caught three touchdown passes to lead the Bears -- who trailed 20-7 going into the fourth quarter -- to a 28-20 upset of the 49ers. Rookie Kyle Fuller helped in Chicago outscoring the 49ers 21-0 in the final 15 minutes as he picked off a pair of passes to provide the Bears' offense with short fields.

Worst moment: Marshall’s impassioned speech -- which could be heard by reporters outside the locker room prior to team officials opening the doors -- and scathing postgame comments following Chicago’s 27-14 loss at home to the Miami Dolphins caused mixed reactions among the team. Marshall called the team’s performances and 3-4 record at the time “unacceptable.” And while some players agreed with the receiver’s comments, others reacted indifferently. Ultimately, Marshall’s locker room speech and comments could have galvanized the Bears, but appear to have done more harm than good considering the beatdown the club took the following game at New England.

Key to the second half: Offensively, the problems run deep as Cutler needs to significantly reduce the turnovers while the staff needs to help out as much as possible on the play-calling end. Trestman talked about the offense’s need to strike a better balance with the pass/run ratio, which obviously would expose Cutler to fewer chances to commit turnovers, while keeping teams guessing. In the passing game, the Bears need to incorporate more weapons instead of relying so heavily on Marshall and Jeffery. Given Martellus Bennett's skill set, there’s no doubt the Bears could use him similar to the way the Patriots attacked the club’s defense with Rob Gronkowski. Defensively, the Bears need to find a way to maintain a level of consistency despite utilizing inexperienced players due to injuries. Injuries were a legitimate excuse for the defense last year, but won’t fly any more given all the depth the team obtained in the offseason, not to mention its stated goal prior to the season of developing every defender on the roster, regardless of stature.
Former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks Mike Holmgren appeared on ESPN 1000's "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on Monday, and discussed some of the challenges Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman is likely facing with his team at 3-5 coming out of the bye week.

Like Holmgren during his coaching days, Trestman utilizes a West Coast attack on offense. Holmgren described how such an attack is built to operate. Yet strangely, that's not what's taken place in Chicago over the first eight games of the season.

[+] EnlargeMarc Trestman
AP Photo/David GoldmanMarc Trestman needs to gain trust and respect out of his star QB and star receivers in order for the Bears' offense to succeed, says Mike Holmgren.
"For the offense to work most efficiently… the way it's built is to move the ball around and throw to the open guy," Holmgren said. "So the defense, regardless of the coverage you see, you're gonna have to throw to someone. That's how it's taught. I know that's what Marc believes in, and I know that's the way it is. Now within that framework, if you have a superstar at wide receiver like they have there, like I had with Jerry Rice, you're obligated now to try to get him to be a real active part of this."

That seems to be what's occurred for the Bears with regards to receiver Brandon Marshall.

Although there's the perception Bears quarterback Jay Cutler throws mostly to Marshall, the receiver actually ranks No. 2 behind Matt Forte in terms of balls thrown his way, while also checking in at fourth on the team in receptions (34) behind the running back (58), tight end Martellus Bennett (47), and Alshon Jeffery (38). Trestman has talked about making Marshall more of a focal point in the offense, and Holmgren said he did the same with Rice during his time with the receiver as the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers.

"So on my sideline sheet, as you well know, I had throws to Rice," Holmgren explained. "I had throws to whoever was our top gun at the time. That's part of calling a good game. Here's what would happen. I'd call the player's number, a pass to Jerry Rice as an example, and the coverage, they doubled him. So I don't want him to throw the ball there. You don't do that. You throw it someplace else. Typically, it worked. But then all of the sudden, that player gets a little frosty. 'I'm not getting my catches.' Jerry, he'd come into my office on a number of occasions on Monday, and say, 'Mike, I'm not getting the ball.' I'd sit down with him and then I'd show how I was calling the game, why I called it, and those things because I needed him to be happy. Then after those meetings, he'd go, 'OK, I get it.' But still, he's proud and he wants to be a part of helping the team win. So you're fighting that little battle, too."

There's also the internal struggle between quarterback and coach for the two to gain an almost unbreakable level of trust. Holmgren fought through such a dynamic with Brett Favre, Steve Young and Matt Hasselbeck and said it will take time for Cutler and Trestman to develop real chemistry.

Holmgren's only advice to Cutler at this point would be "to smile a little more."

"He looks like he's not having nearly enough fun out there," Holmgren said. "I think everybody is watching the quarterback. His teammates are watching him. The fans are watching him. Even though you say, 'Well, what's that have to do with anything?' Well, I think it does. That's what I would talk to him about. I think when the head coach and the quarterback get into this real trust thing, and I don't want to sound corny. But it happened with Matt Hasselbeck. It happened with Brett Favre. The first year or two when you're trying to implement or change their game perhaps, or get them to do it a certain way, they're thoroughbreds and they fight you a little bit. Steve Young was the same way. Then all of the sudden, a light comes on and to quote Matt Hasselbeck with me, he came into my office. He goes: 'I get it. I get it. I'm sorry that I fought you on stuff.' I said, 'Matt, did you ever think that I didn't want you to be good?'

"So I think there's a point in time where that happens. It's a trust thing. He's like an extension of you on the field, and I think that just takes some time. Now, having said that, the player who is an awesome player, he has to totally buy in and believe you're there to help him. Until that happens, you see these little inconsistencies I guess."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman considered naming permanent captains during the team’s bye week, but in the end decided to maintain the rotational system he put in place at the beginning of the season.

“I had moments where we did talk about it, and I did think about it,” Trestman said. “But I felt that it’s in the best interest of the team to move forward this way.”

For whatever reason, the team’s decision to not name permanent captains at the start of the season has become a hot topic of discussion locally, with several players -- including Brandon Marshall and Jared Allen -- scoffing at what they perceived to be somewhat of a manufactured value placed on captains. The truth is captains on game days are merely the players officials turn to in penalty situations to ask whether the team wants to accept or decline, and they call heads or tails prior to kickoff.

While many teams elect captains before the start of the season, Chicago’s decision to not do so doesn’t mean the locker room is devoid of leadership. Besides, leaders earn their titles by virtue of how they conduct themselves on and off the field, and whether they’re productive go-to players in live game situations.

Fiery, rah-rah locker room speeches don’t earn players the title of leader.

Still, Trestman admitted that his decision to maintain the status quo with regards to captains isn’t a done deal.

“As I told them at some point about later in the season when the time is right, there will be a time where we can possibly elect captains for the year,” Trestman said. “But I think it’s still fluid, and in the best interest of the team to continue to make it a fluid process week in and week out. We have so many new guys, a lot of young guys in a lot of different places.”
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Brandon Marshall brushed off any potential distraction caused by last week’s locker room flap on the heels of Chicago’s 27-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins, and plans to use the frustration from the defeat and residual drama as “fuel” for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.

Asked Friday how he’s moved on from last week’s disappointment, Marshall said, “Do what I’ve been doing my whole career. Just get up every single day, put one leg in my pants, then the next one, and go to work. That’s all I do.”

Marshall
Marshall sees the latest situation as an opportunity for the team to take a major step toward developing. The Bears have lost three of their last four games, and are coming off a loss to Miami that caused Marshall to make several pointed remarks regarding the performance of the offense.

Before the team opened the locker room for reporters, Marshall could be overheard addressing the team. A source inside the locker room said some of the receiver’s remarks were directed at quarterback Jay Cutler, who on Thursday denied that was the case.

“We’ve got a really talented group, close-knit group,” Marshall said after practice Friday. “We’re in a tough spot right now, but you can really grow when there’s tension and when you’re in an uncomfortable position, and I think we are. But this team is built to persevere in situations like this. We go on the road in San Francisco, against the Jets, and we play well. We play well enough. That’s what we have to do this week is take it one game a time and fight our way back into this thing.”

Marshall took issue with how reporters characterized what they heard outside the doors of the club’s locker room as the receiver addressed the team.

“Man, you guys [in the media] are the most powerful people in the world,” Marshall said. “You guys influence the masses. When you use words like ‘rant’ and ‘tirade,’ that’s sexy. It sells papers. It boosts readings. But that’s B.S., and you guys know that.”

Did Marshall leave his frustrations from Sunday’s loss in the locker room?

“No,” he said. “It’s fuel. You’ve got to take that frustration and use it as fuel. I’m going to be frustrated until we run a few [wins together] in a row. So you just have to take it and use it as fuel. That’s the good thing about playing in professional sports. You can let the negative stuff tear you down or you can take it and build off of it, and use it as fuel. And I’ll be determined to get the job done.”
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CHICAGO -- Outside the closed double doors of the Chicago Bears' locker room in the bowels of Soldier Field after the team’s 27-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins, loud yelling pierced the busy hallway, and a source later said the noise was Brandon Marshall calling out quarterback Jay Cutler.

Just down the hall at the team’s postgame news conference, Bears coach Marc Trestman and Cutler gave contradictory statements when asked why the team handed off to Matt Forte just twice in the first half.

[+] EnlargeCameron Wake and Jay Cutler
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastBears QB Jay Cutler had one interception and three fumbles (one lost) in Sunday's loss to the Dolphins.
Trestman said “We had some runs called,” but the Dolphins moved “into certain fronts that forced us to get out [of the runs].” Cutler said, “We had two runs called. ... It’s not like we had 12 [runs] called.”

The contradictory statements, slight locker room friction, and subsequent frustration from Marshall, not to mention guard Kyle Long criticizing the fans at Soldier Field, underscore the dysfunction seemingly taking hold of the Bears just a week after they blasted the Atlanta Falcons 27-13 on the road. Ultimately, the root of the problem on offense proved, as usual, to be turnovers. In each of the team’s four losses this season, Cutler committed multiple turnovers, leading to a total of 37 points for the opponent.

“Turnovers obviously hurt you,” Trestman said. “When you turn over the ball, you take yourself out of it. We had three turnovers today offensively, and that was after a bad start. If you look at the games, I think there [is] some reasonably good execution in terms of how utilizing our offense, particularly.”

But none of it means anything if you can’t protect the football. Heading into the game Sunday, the Bears averaged 423.3 yards of offense in their losses, but turned over the ball a total of nine times. Chicago turned over the ball three times against the Dolphins.

“Same mistakes, same mistakes, same mistakes,” Marshall said. “We’ve got to protect the football.”

Down 7-0 in the second quarter, Cutler’s pass intended for tight end Martellus Bennett sailed with Reshad Jones picking it off and returning it 50 yards to set up the Dolphins at the Chicago 23. Santonio Holmes ran a go route down the sideline, which was expected to draw away coverage from Bennett.

But Holmes wound up running free down the sideline, while two defenders covered Bennett as he watched Cutler’s pass sail over his head.

“We got squeezed from the outside. It was a little bit high,” Cutler said. “I think Marty saw the squeeze coming. I don’t even know if he saw it coming to be honest with you. They did a good job with coverage. They really did. They mixed it up, took a lot of the deep shots from us.”

Jones’ interception gave the Dolphins a short field to work with, and Ryan Tannehill would cap the 23-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace to give the visitors a 14-0 lead.

“After watching film all week, we saw [Cutler] was looking where he threw the ball,” Jones said. “He was always looking at his receivers and never looking off. I tried to take advantage of that, and it paid off.”

Miami received another short field when Cameron Wake sacked and stripped Cutler at the Chicago 16.

Four plays later, the Bears made the score 24-7 on a Caleb Sturgis field goal.

“You watched the game. What’s breaking down?” Forte asked. “Penalties and turnovers, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Trestman and Marshall called the offense’s performance “unacceptable” multiple times in their postgame remarks.

“You want me to say it again?” Marshall asked. “[A record of] 3-4 is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable. You don’t get a tomorrow in this league. We’re halfway through this season! It’s time.”

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