Bears passing 'O' looking in wrong direction vs. Seattle

932275.png

Bears passing 'O' looking in wrong direction vs. Seattle

In the NFL, just like in real life, be careful what you wish for. You may get it.

Brandon Marshall expressed excitement on Wednesday at the prospect of going against one-on-one coverage from the Seattle Seahawks defense, specifically in the form of cornerbacks Richard Stewart and Brandon Browner.

Best guess is that this is some sort of gamesmanship on Marshalls part, professing to hope for single coverage from two of the better cornerbacks in the NFC. Browner was a Pro Bowl selection; Sherman was All-Rookie team in 2011.

Ive been excited about this game for some time just because of that, Marshall said. Whenever you get a chance to play a little one on one, its exciting. Ive been watching film and I saw what they did against Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions and Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals. They threw some Cover 2 in there but for the most part they do what they do. Im excited about that.

Beware the problems

The problem with that, if Marshall really is excited about his matchups with the Seattle secondary, is that Johnson caught exactly three passes for just 46 total yards against the Seahawks. Fitzgerald caught four. Neither receiver scored against Seattle.

The bigger problem with that is that the Bears have lost the only two games in which Marshall caught fewer than five passes (Green Bay, San Francisco, two vs. each). Marshall may be excited at what he has seen the Seahawks do vs. Fitzgerald and Johnson but the message there is that he thinks he can do what neither of those could do.

And the biggest problem of all is that with Marshall as the center of the offense, the Bears have the worst passing offense in the NFL (32nd in yards per game, 30th in yards per pass play). The Bears are 8-3 through little fault of the passing offense.

Still, Cutler is going to keep going to Marshall, period.

Whenever he gets in that zone he was on Sunday 12 catches vs. Minnesota, just feed him the ball, Cutler said. Just find him the ball. Just find a way. If Bs not No. 1 in the progression, go to him anyway. He just makes it happen.

Numbers vs. wins

Marshall and Cutler appear to be overlooking the fairly significant fact that the Lions and Cardinals, two 4-7 teams, both beat the Seahawks.

A major reason: While the Seahawks were dealing with Johnson, Titus Young was catching nine passes (for 100 yards, two TDs), Brandon Pettigrew snagged seven and Tony Scheffler four. The Seahawks took care of Fitzgerald but neglected Andre Roberts, who caught five passes, one for a touchdown.

Arizona and Detroit both stopped feeding their elite receivers and went elsewhere. And won.

Roberts has 50 catches this season. After Marshall (81) the Bears have no receiver with more than Matt Fortes 27 and hes a running back. Only twice this season has a Bear caught more than four passes (Forte five vs. Carolina, Alshon Jeffery five vs. St. Louis).

If not Marshall, who?

To his credit, Marshall does see the problem in the offense even as he likes seeing the ball come his way as much as it has.

Its impressive that were moving the ball, but there is a sense of urgency to get other guys the ball, Marshall said, without specifying where the extra footballs will come from. I was really excited about Jay spreading it around last week. Probably got seven or eight different guys involved, just getting a touch.

It doesnt matter if its one or two catches, as long as other guys are involved, it makes it easier for our whole team. Were going to lean on Earl a lot this week. Were going to lean on some of the other guys that are stepping up and playing this week to make some plays. Im excited.

Morning Update: Bulls fall to Blazers; Could Chris Sale be on the move?

Morning Update: Bulls fall to Blazers; Could Chris Sale be on the move?

Five Things to Watch: Bulls in Detroit for fourth game in five nights on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Coyotes tonight on CSN+

Despite Chris Sale rumors, White Sox say they have contingencies in place for a rebuild

Kenley Jansen? Wade Davis? Cubs keeping an open mind for the ninth inning

Slow start to fourth dooms Bulls in loss to Blazers

Back from scary concussion, Leonard Floyd playing like franchise pass rusher Bears craved

Scott Darling takes the reins for Blackhawks in Corey Crawford’s absence

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf knows 'it will be very hard to trade' Chris Sale

Cubs: The next steps for Kyle Schwarber

Rajon Rondo used foul language with Bulls assistant coaches following loss to Mavs

Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Living well is indeed the best revenge, and sometimes nothing feels sweeter than proving doubters wrong. Akiem Hicks is savoring that exact feeling.

When the New Orleans Saints made Hicks their third-round pick in the 2013 draft, they typecast their big (6-5, 318 pounds) young defensive lineman as a one-trick pony.

“There were people in New Orleans that said, ‘You can’t rush the passer,’” Hicks recalled after the Bears’ win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers. “They told me from my rookie year, ‘You’re going to be a run-stopper.’”

This despite Hicks collecting 6.5 sacks and 3 pass breakups as a senior at Regina in Canada. The Saints forced Hicks into the slot they’d decided he fit – nose tackle – then eventually grew disenchanted with him and traded him to New England last year – where he collect 3 sacks in spot duty.

Interestingly, Bears GM Ryan Pace was part of the Saints’ personnel operation. Whether Pace agreed with coaches’ handling of Hicks then isn’t known, but when Pace had the chance to bring Hicks to Chicago for a role different than the one the Saints forced Hicks into, Pace made it happen.

Pace likely saw those New England sacks as a foreshadowing or a sign that the New Orleans staff had miscast Hicks. The Bears defensive end now is under consideration for NFC defensive player of the week after his 10-tackle performance against San Francisco. Signing with the Bears last March 13 as a free agent was the career break Hicks has craved. For him it was a career lifeline.

“They have given me the ability to go rush the passer,” Hicks said. “So I love this organization – [GM] Ryan Pace, coach Fox, Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] – for just giving a guy the capability to put it out there and do what you feel like you can do.”

[MORE BEARS: Back from scary concussion, Leonard Floyd playing like franchise pass rusher Bears craved]

Hicks has been showing what he can do, to quarterbacks. For him the best part of win over the 49ers was the two third-quarter sacks of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Those sacks gave the massive lineman, who the Saints said couldn’t rush the passer, 6 sacks for the season – more than any member of the Saints defense this season. It has been a classic instance of putting a player in position to maximize his skills, not jam someone into a bad fit.

“Akiem has been in a couple of different types of packages before with New Orleans and New England,” said coach John Fox. The Patriots switched from a long-time 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 but “we’re more of a New England-type style. But we’re playing him more at end; he played mostly a nose tackle [in New Orleans]. He’s fit really well for us as far as his physical stature.

"But he does have pass rush ability. It shows a little about his athleticism. So he’s got a combination of both.”

That “combination” has been allowed to flourish at a new level, and the Bears’ plan for Hicks was the foundation of why he wanted to sign in Chicago as a free agent. The Bears do not play their defensive linemen in a clear one-gap, get-upfield-fast scheme tailored to speed players. Nor do they play a classic two-gap, linemen-control-blockers scheme typically built on three massive space-eaters on the defensive line.

They play what one player has called a “gap and a half” system, which requires being stout as well as nimble.

One Hicks rush on Kaepernick featured a deft spin move out of a block, not the norm for 336-pound linemen. He got one sack with a quick slide out of a double-team.

“I’m not freelancing,” Hicks said. “But I’m rushing ‘fast.’ There’s a portion of the defense where you have the [run] responsibility and don’t have the freedom or liberty [to rush]. It’s a great system for me and I love what they’ve let me do.”