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.
Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.
The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.
Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..
The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.
Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..
The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.
Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.
The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.
Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .
Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright – have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.
All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?
Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.
Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.
Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.
Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.
The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.
The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.
The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.
But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.
Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.
Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.