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Marshall takes pride in mental ability

Posted by Larry Mayer on October 31, 2012 – 3:20 pm

Watching 6-4, 230-pound receiver Brandon Marshall, it’s obvious that he possesses the size and strength to consistently win one-on-one battles. But that’s not the only reason he excels.

“Physically, we all know what he can do,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “Behind the scenes, I don’t think people realize how smart and gifted he is mentally within the game of football.

“He knows my reads. He can call the plays in the huddle. He knows where everybody lines up. He could play [every receiver position]. He’s extremely smart. His ability to adjust in the middle of routes depending on coverages is extraordinary.”

Marshall takes pride in the mental aspect of the game.

“That started back in high school when I noticed the guys were faster than me, so I had to be a little crafty in my route running,” he said. “My father used to always teach me the game and how to run routes and be quarterback-friendly. So being with a quarterback who understands leverage and body position made it easy for me and it makes it easy on our offense.”

With 50 receptions for 675 yards through seven games, Marshall is on pace to set Bears single-season records with a career-high 114 catches and 1,542 yards.

Cutler believes that his long-time teammate—first in Denver and now in Chicago—has matured, saying: “He’s a different receiver. I would say better. He understands the game a lot better. He takes care of his body. He’s there every single day getting better.”

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Marshall says Cutler has ‘clutch gene’

Posted by Larry Mayer on October 31, 2012 – 2:39 pm

Receiver Brandon Marshall solicited nicknames from the Chicago media Wednesday to describe Jay Cutler’s ability to perform at a high level late in games.

The Bears quarterback leads the NFL with a fourth-quarter passer rating of 132.0, ahead of the Broncos’ Peyton Manning (119.6) and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (110.6).

“A couple weeks ago I was trying to figure out a name,” Marshall said. “I texted him over a few nicknames like ‘The Closer’ and ‘Ace.’ I’m trying to figure out a nickname for him, so if you guys can help me out, I’d appreciate it. Jay’s one of those guys where he has that clutch gene. You hear guys talk about it and some believe in it, some don’t. But Jay has it.”

Cutler demonstrated that gene last Sunday when he led the Bears to a 23-22 comeback win over the Carolina Panthers. Trailing 19-7 midway through the fourth quarter, he threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis and then set up Robbie Gould’s game-winning 41-yard field goal as time expired by engineering a nine-play, 55-yard drive.

In the first three quarters, Cutler completed only 7 of 14 passes for 80 yards with one interception, two lost fumbles and six sacks. In the fourth period, he connected on 12 of 14 passes for 106 yards with one touchdown and a 122.0 rating.

“We know what [Cutler] can do,” said center Roberto Garza. “If you give him time, he can connect with those big-time receivers that we have out there. We’ve been practicing that [two-minute drill] since we started training camp, getting the work in, and it obviously paid off.”

Part of Cutler’s success in the fourth quarter this season can be attributed to the Bears protecting leads against defenses that are stacking the box to try to stop the run.

“Our defense is putting us in positions where we’re leading games and [opponents] are trying to get the ball back, [playing] a lot of single high [safety], which makes it a lot easier on the outside throwing the ball,” Cutler said. “We’ve hit some big plays out there. The way our defense is playing and carrying leads into the fourth quarter makes my job easier.”

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Hasselbeck impressed with Bears defense

Posted by Larry Mayer on October 31, 2012 – 2:03 pm

Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has had some recent success against the Bears defense. But the 14-year NFL veteran knows that he’ll face a difficult test Sunday in Nashville.

In three starts versus the Bears since 2007-all with the Seattle Seahawks-Hasselbeck passed for 337, 242 and 258 yards with six touchdowns, no interceptions and a 96.2 passer rating.

“I don’t even know what those numbers are, but I know that they’re a great defense,” Hasselbeck said. “They have been for a long time. Shoot, for like the last 50 years they’ve been known for having a great defense. It’s one of those teams that you really have to study and understand.”

The Bears defense is ranked No. 1 in the Aikman Ratings, which combines seven different statistical categories. During the team’s current five-game winning streak, the unit has returned six interceptions for touchdowns while allowing opponents to score only four TDs.

“They’ve got All-Pro players, guys that are perennial Pro Bowlers, guys that are great at their positions,” Hasselbeck said. “It’s a defense that you not only know because you watch them on TV as a fan but you also study them, and you sort of raise your game in preparation in a sense to try to be successful.”

Hasselbeck has especially been impressed with cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman. Jennings leads the NFL with a career-high six interceptions and was named NFC defensive player of the month for September. Tillman returned interceptions for touchdowns in back-to-back games, earning NFC defensive player of the week honors after both contests.

“They are two very different styles of corners, but two guys you have a great amount of respect for,” Hasselbeck said. “In particular these last few weeks, Tillman has been playing really well. He’s well known for creating turnovers, stripping the ball and being a very smart player.

“[Jennings] on the other side is different. He’s quicker and more aggressive. He’s smart and he understands when to take chance and when not to take chances. It’s a good tandem. They match up well against all the different teams.”

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