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.
This week marks the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end, depending on how you want to look at organized team activities (OTA’s), the third stage of the NFL offseason culminating in the mandatory minicamp June 13-15. Teams are allowed a total of 10 OTA sessions, giving coaches a final look at players before the break until training camp convenes in late July.
The sessions also mark the first time that the players, who were finishing college semesters this time a year ago, will be introduced to the REAL NFL, the professionals already part of the August fraternity to which the draft picks and undrafted free agents aspire.
Well, maybe it's not the true first time some of the rookies will “meet” the pros.
During the brief rookie minicamp, offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn did as all the coaches do: show his position group the film of them going through their drills. In the interest of accelerating the young players’ learning curve, however, Washburn went a step further.
He followed the rookie film with the same drills being run by the pros, meaning the rookies could see how Kyle Long, Charles Leno, Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair and other vets did those same drills.
The difference was startling – as Washburn intended. The kids were being shown a new meaning for what they might have thought was “maximum effort.”
“That’s one thing coach ‘Wash and coach Ben [Wilkerson] have really been pushing to us — just making sure we’re doing everything to maximum effort, and always finishing near the ball,” said rookie lineman Jordan Morgan. “I feel like that’s stuff you hear at every level of football, but more so now, especially, it being the NFL.”
Rules limit the amount of work allowed vs. opposition, meaning how much Morgan might learn by going against a Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman or Pernell McPhee. But learning the every-play intensity at the NFL level may be difficult to comprehend for players who’ve obviously seen it done this hard before.
“The way the veteran guys run [the drills] is the way you’re supposed to do it,” Washburn said. “There’s a style of play, a work ethic you have to put into this. You can’t just get away with things because the guy in front of you is as good or better than you are.
“Scheme-wise, that has not been a problem, the way it has been with some rookies I’ve had in the past. It’s the day-to-day intensity and focus you have to put in for 16 weeks. That is a big adjustment.”
The NFL is replete with examples of college players arriving with elite physical abilities but not taking effort and learning intensity to the professional level. The Bears used the No. 8 overall pick of the 2001 draft on wide receiver David Terrell, who’d dominated on raw ability at the college level but never developed beyond a mid-level wideout.
Washburn saw something similar while coaching offensive line for the Detroit Lions.
“I had a rookie guard in Detroit who ate Hot Pockets and played video games at night,” Washburn recalled. “His rookie year he got by, played OK, but then had a big slump his sophomore year and said, ‘I gotta change my ways.’
“He absolutely changed everything and now he’s an absolute pro.”
If Bears rookies do anything video with their nights, Washburn intends for those videos to be the ways the pros do it
Jim Harbaugh is a former Chicago Bear, but that's not the main reason why he'll be rooting for the Monsters of the Midway this fall.
Harbaugh, the current Michigan head coach and former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, used to coach alongside current Bears assistants Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell in the Bay Area.
Fangio, the Bears' defensive coordiantor, and Donatell, the Bears' defensive backs coach, held those same positions for all four of Harbaugh's seasons leading the Niners.
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Harbaugh voiced his support for his former assistants Monday, speaking with CSN's Pat Boyle at the Golf.Give.Gala golf outing in St. Charles.
"I know (the Bears) are going to have a heck of a defense," Harbaugh said. "Because I know they've got Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell and a tremendous coaching staff. So I'll be pulling hard for them."
Harbaugh also was asked about new Bears quarterback Mike Glennon, and you can hear his comments in the video above, as well as comments from Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer on another new Bears quarterback, Mitch Trubisky.