Trust me, as a former player it's hard writing an article defending new Bears'No. 1wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Everybody trusts the talent, but do you trust the individual? Do you want Marshalls abbreviated or elongated wrap sheet?Ill surmise: He was arrestedsix times, admitted mental disorder (borderline personality disorder) and was subsequently accused of battery coinciding atrade to the Bears via the Miami Dolphins.Whats not to love? Marshall seems like a great guy. Can the Bears Trust Him?Its always dicey making deals with the devil but Im sure one Bear stuck his neck out to vouch for Marshall: It would be their starting quarterback Jay Cutler.Their history is well documented with the Broncos. Marshall averaged 92 receptionsper year and over 1,000 yardsper season when they played together. Its not happenstance those records occurred just because theyre both talented, but rather their relationship is much deeper.BondsWhen you get drafted together like Cutler (first round) and Marshall (fourth round) were in 2006 by the Broncos, bonds are created. They are created every year between all draft picks of every team. Draft picks decide amongst themselves who has the heart, passion, desire and skill required to achieve the task at hand. Earlier draft picks with higher investment have the edge, but all draft picks are trying to accomplish the same goal and dream, which is to make the team and play in the NFL. Speed DatingCutler and Marshall observed early on they were special. They excelled when other draft picks faltered. Talent was the common thread but they both recognized and respected their discussions about the desire to be great, working hard at their craft in order to be special in the NFL. Its just what winners do. Its called Backing it up."Is there a trusted Doctors diagnosis for this disease in modern medicine and is the desire to be great Illegal? Cutler has not been arrested like Marshall but he has been handcuffed in a parallel universe known as the Bears' pass game since his arrival. Prescribed medication maybe the key, but I think two guys who trust each other will live up to their bond as rookies.No meds needed. The Bears will be just fine when it comes to trusting Marshall. Just look at the facts. Marshall has to play nice due to the legalbattles. Hehas no wiggle room at all in 2012, considering how he arrived to the Bears.Sweat EquityCutler and Marshall have a ton of sweat equity together with the Broncos. Trust me, trust is not an issue.
Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?
The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?
The Bears winning a road game against a perennial playoff contender, one with a winning record coming in – that’s great.
Winning in Baltimore with a rookie quarterback in only his second NFL appearance – that’s terrific.
Generating more takeaways than giveaways and netting points from them – that’s just outstanding.
And now what?
Because too often under John Fox the Bears have posted a victory and failed to have it mean much of anything because of what followed a week later – a largely self-inflicted loss. The Bears have not posted consecutive wins since midway through the 2015 season, and even then proceeded to unravel on by squandering opportunities sitting squarely within their grasp.
Why should this time be any different? Because if it’s not, and the Bears again fail to stack even one win on top of another, then a dominating performance against the Baltimore Ravens (leaving out special teams, which surrendered in two plays more points than the defense did in 14 entire Baltimore possessions) becomes another meaningless afternoon in the overall for a team determined to reinvent itself.
Coaches typically divide seasons mentally into quarters, and clearly in Fox’s mind, Sunday was part of a different quarter from the 1-3 first quarter. “Really it takes almost four games, it’s almost like the preseason anymore, where you kind of get it figured out,” Fox said. “So just developing that confidence, usually good things have to happen to gain that confidence. And we did some good things.”
But the Bears have done “some good things” in games past and it becomes much ado about nothing, sound and fury signifying less than nothing. So again: Why should this time be any different?
Two reasons, actually. Neither absolute, but neither very complicated, either.
Reason No. 1: Trubisky
Without making too much out of one individual player, the chief reason arguably lies in the person of Mitchell Trubisky, a quarterback who already has palpably changed the psyche of a previously languishing team.
“The team didn’t make nearly as many mental errors this week because of his patience,” said wide receiver Kendall Wright, who supported Trubisky with a leaping catch of 18 yards to set up the game-winning field goal.
Unlike Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer and 2016 Jay Cutler, each of whom won one game and one game only over the past 22, Trubisky delivered the ball security of Hoyer with added impact that none of his predecessors did manage, or arguably even could have managed.
Put simply, the Bears do in fact have a quarterback who even at this point appears able not only to make plays as drawn up, but also to create something out of nothing or at least avert catastrophe.
“Mitch made some great plays,” Fox said. “I mean, if you look at the snap over his head in the end zone, there’s probably only five or six or seven quarterbacks in this league that could get out of that. I go back to the touchdown pass to Dion [Sims, tight end]. He flushed [from the pocket], we adjusted and he dropped a dime in the end zone for a touchdown. And the play obviously at the end where more than likely if we don’t get that, we’re probably punting, the play he made to Kendall. I think Mitch played outstanding… .
“Those are really good decisions. It beats six interceptions, for sure. There’s a 3rd-and-3 play in the red area, low red, sprint out to our left. It wasn’t all perfect but he did the next best thing and that’s throw it away. So those are really, really good decisions that I think sometimes the casual or un-casual fan does not see.”
The noteworthy element in Trubisky’s game was the impact achieved by a Bears quarterback who completed all of eight passes. The reality is that Trubisky doesn’t need to attempt more than 20 passes a game (including the four sacks his protection allowed, which absolutely needs to be fixed).
For perspective purposes: Ben Roethlisberger in his first two seasons averaged 17.4 and 15.9 passes per game. The Pittsburgh Steelers reached the AFC Championship game and won the Super Bowl in those two seasons, running an offense that was just short of 60 percent runs.
Reason No. 2: Mistake reduction
A mistaken notion as to how improvement happens is the belief that it comes from just getting better and better, skill sets rising to the loftiest heights.
Not necessarily. Anyone who has had the good fortune of working their golf handicap down knows that the stroke reductions come less from suddenly adding 30 yards to drives or developing a draw on a 200-yard three-iron, than from eliminating the fluffed pitch shots, the approach shots pushed into traps, the drives into the woods. Cut down the mistakes and good things happen.
So it is with the Bears, who effectively lost the Minnesota game by allowing a 58-yard TD run by Jerick McKinnon, and sealed it with a poor Trubisky pass on a possession with a chance to tie or win. They lost the Atlanta game simply by dropping passes. They aren’t as good as the Green Bay Packers – at least not until Trubisky reaches full extension and proves to be a challenge to Aaron Rodgers.
But only in the Atlanta near-miss did they self-destruct with fewer penalties (four) than they did at Baltimore (five). Sunday was the first time since Atlanta that they threw zero interceptions. And the defense limited the Ravens to three third-down conversions out of 18, one indicator of fewer breakdowns on the most important down.
“As long as we eliminate those mistakes that we’ve been making,” Fox said, “we’re gonna be right there going into the end of the game.”
The Bears have had positive spikes in the past and then collapsed; even after winning three of four in late 2015, the inept home losses to San Francisco and Washington were arguably a tipping point in the Fox era.
The point next Sunday against Carolina is to determine if the Bears are through with their one-and-done ways.