Tice: No 'Brandon Ratio' but

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Tice: No 'Brandon Ratio' but

When Mike Tice was Minnesota Vikings head coach a decade ago, the Randy Ratio was in operation. At least 40 percent of passes thrown were going to go toward Randy Moss.

We certainly had a number of plays offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and I talked about this many targets for Randy, Tice told CSNChicago.com on Wednesday. We knew what that was and we stayed at it.

According to one count the Vikings were 4-1 in 2002 when they hit the Ratio point, 1-10 when quarterback Daunte Culpepper didnt.

The Bears are 7-1 to this point of 2012 with a Brandon Ratio that has slightly more than 37 percent of Jay Cutler passes intended for Marshall. That is not necessarily by design. However

There is no Brandon Ratio, Tice said. I do know this that on third downs were going to have some opportunities that are going to go his way. He does such a great job on third downs.

Tice was not revealing any game plan with his declaration that the league already was not amply aware. Marshall is the NFLs leading receiver on third-downs, with 19 catches and an average of 15.6 yards per third-down reception. Four of his seven touchdowns have come on third downs.

Marshall not the problem

Cutler has targeted Marshall 86 times this season (90 per ESPN.com numbers). The next-closest is among wide receivers is Earl Bennett at 32, then 28 for Matt Forte. Devin Hester has been targeted 23 times.

Notably, rookie Alshon Jeffery also has been targeted 23 times and hes missed the last three games plus the fourth quarter of the Jacksonville game with his broken hand, after playing his way into the starting lineup in part because he caught 14 of those 23. Cutler was throwing to him because he trusted him.

If Cutler is locking onto one receiver excessively, he can be the cause of a one-dimensional offense. But if Hester is getting open just 23 times in eight games, then something is wrong with No. 23. If Bennett is only getting open 32 times in his six games, then Cutler can be excused for going to No. 15 and his own private Brandon Ratio.

Trust factor

Receivers are tasked with earning a quarterbacks trust. Even if Cutler is looking too much for Marshall teams with 100-catch receivers rarely win Super Bowls the bigger challenge is to Bennett, Hester and Jeffery when he returns is to establish themselves with a quarterback whose trust is easily shaken.

The number of passes to one of the elite receivers in the NFL and clearly the best ever in a Bears uniform is not the problem. Getting the ball to a superstar does not fit neatly in any notion of problem.

But Cutler and Marshall won exactly zero in their two seasons starting together with Marshall catching 102 and 104 passes. They did not have a winning season either year.

When Tice operated with the Randy Ratio with Moss, the Vikings were 5-11 in 2001 with Moss catching 82 with 10 touchdowns and Cris Carter 75. They went 6-10 on 2002 with Moss 106 and seven TDs. Moss 111 catches and 17 touchdowns in 2003 were good for 9-7 but not for postseason.

Our receivers are playing hard, blocking their butts off, Tice said. But our passing game is going to go through Brandon.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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