Over the last five years Brandon Marshall has caught more passes than anyone in the NFL besides Wes Welker in New England. He did it fueled by an anger that burned hot on the field and too often off it as well.He acquired and relished the nickname The Beast, as well as a rap sheet and suspension by the league that he now says he is committing much of his life to correcting.The problem (although not really a problem in the big picture) is that as Marshall dials back some of the anger, does he also dial back some of the results that he admits were achieved in some part because of that very anger?That was the old me, Marshall said Friday. That was me a year ago. To me, I call it my gift and my curse. Because without that passion, without that intense approach to the game, which comes from a lot of my pain, a lot of my anger, I wouldnt be here today.There it is. Is passion for the game the same thing as rage when you play it, which so many players insist you need to be great?The dilemma for the Bears is hopingtrusting that Marshall will control the rage off the field without losing what it got him on it.To his credit and perhaps a sign that Marshall is well aware of the dilemma within himself Marshall admits that he doesnt have as much of the fury now.What you saw -- The Beast, where I catch a ball and then I'll be banging myself in the head, intense, screaming, yelling after I block someone -- that's what made me good, Marshall said. It was the anger. It was the pain that was inside of me.Going through treatment and actually working through that stuff, going back to stuff, working through things when I was six years old, going through my childhood, the psychotherapy behind it, it made me a softer person.So it definitely took away from some of the intensity. But I still have the same passion for the game. I still approach it the same way. But off the field, it just made me so much softer and so much lighter, so much healthier and I'm excited about it.
Apart from any specific player or statistic, one unavoidable part of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions looms ominously in front of the Bears, and there is no way they can avoid it: The fourth quarter.
Every game has one, and it has been the blessing of the Lions’ 2016 existence and the bane of the Bears’. The Bears talk constantly about the importance of playing a 60-minute game.
Before last Sunday’s 28-13 win over the New Orleans Saints, the Lions had trailed in the fourth quarter of all seven of their previous victories this season. A team that had traditionally found undisciplined ways to squander games has been finding ways to win them, according to a formula.
As Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel noted, “every single one of these games has looked the same: There was the drive, the field goal and the huge defensive play or, at least, some variation of those things."
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This is particularly relevant — and concerning — for the Bears, who have been the virtual opposite: Three times this season (at Houston, at Indianapolis, vs. Jacksonville) they have led in fourth quarters and lost those games.
The reasons lie in different phases, not simply cases of one, same unit failing.
"With us it’s not excuses, but we’re young, on our third quarterback, and that can affect it as far as experience and just being in that situation,” said coach John Fox. “To close the game, sometimes it’s just a mindset. When you have young players, it’s learning how to deal with adversity and learning how to deal with prosperity.”
The Bears did not outscore an opponent in the fourth quarter of any of their first 10 games this season, finally getting something going late in the Tennessee and San Francisco games, outscoring those two opponents by a combined 19-3.
“Being able to finish games, that’s something we’re learning and I think I saw examples of it last week in the San Francisco game and even going back to Minnesota, games where we have closed it, even in the first Detroit game, although we made that one interesting,” Fox said. “We found a way. So a lot of it’s experience under pressure and hopefully we’re figuring it out and can figure it out the last four games of the year.”
Beginning Sunday, presumably, against the NFL’s reigning comeback team.
Remember back in 2014 when the Bears rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the 49ers 28-20 in San Francisco on Sunday Night Football?
Well, Brandon Marshall doesn't.
And he had three of the four touchdown catches, two of them coming in the last quarter.
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The former Bears wide receiver, who had been dealing with a high ankle sprain, said he took pain pills before the game and doesn't recall much of it, including the incredible one-handed grab that went viral.
"I don't really remember much about that game because I worked really hard to get back from a high ankle (sprain)," Marshall said during a conference call Wednesday. "I'll say it, I took a couple pain pills that masked the pain. I really wasn't supposed to play. I came back from a high ankle (sprain) within 10 days. I was supposed to be out four to six weeks. I don't remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. And that was pretty much it."
If only Bears fans could forget that season entirely, which ended in a 5-11 record and the end of the Marc Trestman era.