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Bears’ Brandon Marshall to Seahawks’ big CBs: Bring it

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Updated: January 3, 2013 6:24AM



Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall is ready for the one-on-one fight he’ll get when lined up against Brandon Browner or Richard Sherman.

In fact, he wants it.

‘‘I’ve been excited about this game for some time just because of that,’’ Marshall said when asked about the Seattle Seahawks’ big, aggressive cornerbacks. ‘‘Whenever you get a chance to play a little one-on-one, it’s exciting.

‘‘I’ve been watching film, and I saw what they did against Calvin [Johnson] and Larry [Fitzgerald]. They threw some [cover]-2 in there, but for the most part, they do what they do. I’m excited about that.’’

What Browner and Sherman did to Johnson and Fitzgerald, two of the best receivers in the NFL, was shut them down. Steve Smith, Percy Harvin and Greg Jennings also made the list.

The Seahawks use a lot of press coverage with a single-high safety. Browner (6-4, 221 pounds) and Sherman (6-3, 195) are big and fast enough to deal with any receiver, including Marshall.

‘‘With those guys around, it’s a different matchup for him,’’ quarterback Jay Cutler said.

Similar to what they did against the Minnesota Vikings, the Bears are expected to implement a game plan consisting of short passes and plenty of runs against the Seahawks’ fifth-ranked defense to protect their makeshift offensive line and Cutler.

The diagrammed play shows one way to gain an advantage against the Seahawks’ corners within such a plan. The play was used by Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and receiver Brian Hartline last week in their 24-21 victory.

In a basic I-formation on second-and-six, Hartline goes in motion on the strong side toward Tannehill, causing Sherman to back off from his press coverage. The Seahawks remain in single-high coverage, with safety Earl Thomas nearly 17 yards deep.

With a slight play-fake to freeze the linebackers and a tight end running a post route with safety Kam Chancellor in coverage, Hartline is able to get one-on-one coverage, with Sherman providing a big cushion. While Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright blitzes from the strong side, Hartline runs an out route, and Tannehill makes one read and finds him for a 10-yard gain before being hit. While not the most exciting play, it’s a way to move the chains against a stout defense that relies on two big cornerbacks to shut down receivers.

Cutler believes in Marshall in such situations.

‘‘Whenever he gets in that zone he was on Sunday [against the Vikings], just feed him the ball,” Cutler said.



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