Brandon Marshall was the Chicago Bears’ greatest wide receiver for two years, 2012 and 2013. For the first time, fans realised what it was like to have an outstanding receiver. Many people wonder what he could’ve looked like if he’d been paired with an exceptional quarterback. It was on Adam Schein’s podcast that the retired former Pro Bowler made a surprising statement. Jay Cutler was outstanding in his eyes.
His trademark swagger and confidence were gone.
The two made incredible music together for a couple of years in Denver. Then they were unceremoniously separated in 2009 when Cutler got traded to Chicago. Not until 2012 did they reunite when the Bears traded for Marshall from Miami. The two were electric that first year as Marshall racked up 118 catches for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, as thrilled as the receiver was to be reunited with his quarterback, he also couldn’t help but notice something was different about Cutler.
Marshall seems to think that the beatings Cutler took from 2009 through 2011 sucked much of the life out of the quarterback. It isn’t hard to understand why. Across 41 games in that stretch, Cutler was sacked 110 times. His body was mercilessly abused. The Bears’ offensive line was a mess, and the coaching staff’s play calling made matters even worse. By the time the front was finally fixed in 2013, it was too late.
Brandon Marshall is correct in his assessment.
Cutler had his faults, but there is no denying he looked like a franchise quarterback when he was on. The Bears did a poor job building around him when he arrived. GM Jerry Angelo felt acquiring the quarterback alone would be enough to make the team a contender. He failed to recognize how bad the offensive line was becoming, and the wide receiver room was made up of Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, and Earl Bennett most of the time. They even traded an actual good weapon in tight end Greg Olsen.
Cutler was soundly outplayed by backup Josh McCown that season. After failing to make the playoffs in the finale against Green Bay, the team fell apart the following year in 2014. Marshall admitted that he didn’t handle the regression well, his immaturity leading to many problems with his quarterback and others in the locker room. The two were separated that offseason again when Marshall got traded to New York. All one could do is wonder if things might’ve gone differently.
The entire situation was mismanaged from the start. Getting the quarterback is only one part of the puzzle. Building around the quarterback is every bit as important. Angelo failed to learn that lesson, and it cost him his job. Phil Emery, to his credit, tried to fix it by acquiring Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett, Jermon Bushrod, and Kyle Long. Sadly by then, whatever magic Cutler had was fading due to injuries and shellshock.
It seems history might be repeating itself.
Once again, a regime acquired a talented quarterback in Justin Fields. Then they failed to bolster the offensive line upon his arrival. Like Angelo, Ryan Pace is now out and Ryan Poles is filling the role of Emery by trying to pick up the pieces. One can only hope he’s not too late.
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