ProFootballWeekly.com With our fantasy football drafts behind us it is now time to focus on week one of the NFL season!
In this quick ten minute podcast I discuss Peyton Manning and how some writers are already telling fantasy football enthusiast to pass on him in draft? Also a follow up on my fantasy football analysis of the Three Super Bears!
By Cris Benson The Fantasy Football Informer
Last week Tuesday was the start of NFL free agency and while most free agent receivers were out with their agents trying to land a new contract in a new city one receiver was being traded. The Chicago Bears traded two third round draft picks to the Miami Dolphins for receiver Brandon Marshall reuniting him with a former Broncos teammate and current Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
The Bears now have three genuine NFL stars at three different positions making them a triple threat in the NFL. This move will shake up fantasy football draft boards in fall when people get a glimpse during preseason football of what the Bears will bring to the NFL regular season.
The Bears new General Manager Phil Emery clearly gets it! Emery made a necessary move to bridge the gap with other teams in the NFC North Division yet some called the move reckless? Reckless because of an incident that alleges Marshal of hitting a woman in a New York City night club the Sunday morning before the trade occurred.
Bears coach Lovie Smith made clear that the Bears went through all “necessary channels” before executing the trade and appears confident of any legal ramifications that Marshal may encounter.
While most assumed the Dolphins traded Marshall because of the alleged incident in New York or if Dolphins new head coach Joe Philbin didn’t feel Marshal fit his offensive scheme? Regardless of all that the trade was a win for the Chicago Bears and new GM Phil Emery.
The combination of all three Cutler, Marshall, and Matt Forte will add a new dimension to the Bears that they have never had. A talented trio of pro bowlers at the most important positions on the offensive side of the ball a real triple threat.
Brandon Marshall has had five consecutive straight seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards something the Bears desperately need in a go to receiver. Just compare Marshall to all former offensive Chicago Bears stars.
Bears single season receptions: Bears receiver History 100 vs. Brandon Marshall 104
Bears Career Receptions: Bears receiver History 492 vs. Brandon Marshall 494
Bears Career Receiving Yards: Bears receiver History 5,059 vs. Brandon Marshall 6,247
Taking these three categories to compare against Brandon Marshall all three scream the Bears landed a real talent. Against all Bears career receivers in the history of the franchise Marshall still comes out ahead in overall production. That list includes former Bears receivers Marty Booker, Marcus Robinson, and Curtis Conway all of them top tier NFL receivers at one point during their career with the Bears. The list also includes hall of famers Mike Ditka and the legendary running-back Walter Payton.
Now realizing the true impact of adding Brandon Marshall to the Bears we can start to analyze how the Bears will make the transition of a team with little fantasy football depth into a team with three solid fantasy football stars.
Let’s compare the Cutlers numbers in 2009 with the Bears to his numbers in 2008 his last year with the Broncos and Marshall.
Jay Cutler Bears 2009 this is his best statistical year as a Bear.
Att 555, Comp336, Pct 60.5%, Yds 3,666, Avg 6.6, Yds/G 229.1, TD 27, Int 26, Sck 35
Jay Cutler Broncos 2008 this is his best statistical year overall.
Att 616, Comp384, Pct 62.3%, Yds 4,526, Avg 7.3, Yds/G 282.9, TD 25, Int 18, Sck 11
Quarterback Jay Cutler will see an overall increase in his completions, huge increase in yardage thrown, and while touchdowns thrown could be greater than both years it certainly will beat the thirteen touchdowns thrown last season.
Cutler talked about his expectations and his communication on the field with Marshall to WMVP ESPN Chicago,
“When Brandon is open and I miss him he’s going to let me know when we got a one-on-one matchup and Brandon doesn’t win I am going to let him know because those are missed opportunities and we can’t have them. It’s kind of funny we got Jeremy Bates (former Denver quarterback coach) back. We are putting in some plays. In the office we were just talking. We were kind of just figuring out what we needed and stuff. It’s fun to finally add a true ‘X’ guy over their like we use to have that can just win at any cost.” Listen Here
Cutler clearly trusts Marshall and that trust is shown by Marshall’s 104 receptions during the 2008 season. Now can they duplicate that kind of production again this upcoming season? Well it could be asking a lot however consider several different factors for why it is possible.
One reason why Cutler struggled to put up touchdowns last season was offensive production by receivers in the red-zone. That is where Cutler most likely will target Marshall as defenses will be forced to use single coverage on Marshall and not give Forte an opening to run.
Former Bears GM Jerry Angelo surrounded Cutler with second and third tier receivers instead of a true number one receiver. The closest thing that has come to Brandon Marshall was former Bears TE now Panther Greg Olsen who caught eight touchdowns from Cutler in 2009. Olsen was traded in 2011 by former GM Angelo to the Panthers for a third round draft pick which produced the fruits of ironically the Brandon Marshall trade to the Dolphins.
The wild card in this speculation is the protection issues that the Bears have had. In his three seasons with the Bears Cutler has been sacked 110 times as opposed to the 51 times he was sacked in Denver. However the good news is the Bears offensive line improved slightly last season in protection surrendering 2.3 sacks (23 sacks in 10 games) a game compared to the 3.4 sacks (52 sacks in 15 games) surrendered on average the previous season.
Also consider the changes in coaching as former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz has been replaced by offensive line coach Mike Tice. This move will reduce the amount of drop backs used in the offense which lead to the large amount of sacks in the first place.
It was almost as if the opposing defense would spread the Tackles and send the middle linebacker every time the last two seasons. Martz made adjustments to his game plan but continued making repetitive mistakes that at times cost the Bears yardage in sacks. I don’t expect to see the exact same scheme with Tice at the helm of the offensive play calling.
Tice was the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and the offensive play caller for a team that emphasized running the ball first then opening big passing plays down the field. In 2003 Tice coached the Viking’s to the number one passing offense and a rushing attack that gained huge yardage.
That brings me to the final piece of the puzzle Bears running-back Matt Forte.
When Jay Cutler went down last season Forte was keyed in by team defenses making it difficult for him to be productive. No better example can be found than in week twelve of the 2011 NFL season when the Chicago Bears played the Oakland Raiders. Forte had twelve rushing attempts and gained fifty nine yards. While that is not bad considering he only had twelve attempts his receiving numbers were the problem. Where Cutler could stretch the field exposing a check down to Forte for a large gain the Raiders would place single coverage on receivers and the linebackers would keep Forte in check keeping him from breaking off a deep run and exposing an underneath opening.
One thing the Bears can do better than any of their divisional rivals is lead a balanced attack. The Packers and the Lions both struggled in the running game and the Vikings are not a very good passing team. Yet the Chicago Bears are a balanced offense and Forte will lead that balance.
Forte’s strength is his ability to not just run but catch the ball and produce yards. In 2011 Forte had 52 receptions and 490 receiving yards making him the Bears third leading receiver.
With the presence of Brandon Marshal teams will be exposed to Forte’s ability to create plays in the open field. Defenses will play more cover three and cover two instead of sending linebackers and safeties too blitz pressuring Cutler into interceptions.
Also consider the other side of the argument when Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall played together in Denver they never had a talent quite like running-back Matt Forte. Both Marshall and Cutler had to depend on each other and occasionally they would receive contributions from running-backs Peyton Hillis, Michael Pittman, Selvin Young and Tatum Bell. All four of those running-backs never had the run and catch talent of Forte and the talent for staying healthy.
While the Chicago Bears hoped Mike Martz could bring back “The Greatest Show on Turf” I have a feeling that Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, GM Phil Emery, and Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice, along with deep supporting cast of returning Bears players will create the next version of “The Super Bears”.
Watching a Chicago Bears game in my house sounds like this, ‘RUN JAY CUTLER! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!’ Keep in mind he was sacked 52 times last season…
I am being completely honest I talk to my TV and tell Cutler to run before he’s paralyzed or worse!
The Chicago Bears are the worst offensive line in pro-football period. Trust me I know!
Now with that said somehow Cutler puts up decent numbers because he is forced to roll out of the pocket and make quick decisions. I wouldn’t take Jay any higher then 12th overall in QB’s though. Keep in mind he threw 23 TD’s last season and 16ints and although he finished very strong last season his value is sliding fast!
I am reading a lot of nonsense that C.J. Spiller the second year RB who drafted by the Bills in 2010 9th overall will start over veteran Fred Jackson. I just don’t believe this since Spiller is a clear draft bust! He had 74 carries for only 283 yards last year and NO TD’s! BUST!
Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was steady last night and may have value as solid backup but needs to have those young receivers to step up and stop blaming God when they don’t catch a ball.