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Brandon Marshall too much for Giants’ ‘D’

Chicago Bears v New York Gaints

Chicago Bears v New York Gaints

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Updated: October 11, 2013 12:23AM



It was the situation Bears receiver Brandon Marshall was hoping for Thursday night against the New York Giants thanks to Alshon Jeffery’s emergence.

Jeffery was in the slot on first-and-goal from the 3-yard line and had Giants safety Antrel Rolle in front of him and safety Will Hill over the top for help.

Marshall, meanwhile, was spread out wide to the right of quarterback Jay Cutler and only had cornerback Terrell Thomas to beat.

It turned into an easy six points for the Bears as Marshall beat the smaller Thomas easily for a back-shoulder catch in the Bears’ 27-21 victory at Soldier Field. And it was the type of coverage Marshall yearned for after Jeffery’s record-setting performance Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

“History has proven he’s going to do it more times than not,” Cutler said of Marshall beating man coverage. “I’m comfortable that he’s going to protect some throws for me, and he’s going to make some plays.”

There was plenty of focus on Marshall heading into this game. He was coming off a four-catch, 30-yard performance, and his frustrations were vented at the podium — twice.

The second time lasted about 25 minutes and included honest, in-depth answers about his borderline personality disorder.

Not to mention, Marshall was wearing lime-green cleats to help raise awareness for mental-health issues.

“Sometimes you come off as a guy who is trying to build yourself up,” Marshall said. “But I just really hope people believe I’m using it as a platform to do well.”

And that includes on the field, too. Marshall never turned out to be the distraction some thought he’d be. He was just the main attraction the Giants couldn’t contain.

Marshall had nine catches for 87 yards, including 65 in the first half, and two touchdowns. He was targeted 11 times, compared to only five on Sunday.

The most encouraging aspect of Marshall’s success was that nothing was forced by Cutler (24-for-36, 262 yards, 106.5 passer rating). Eight Bears were targeted, and six caught passes, including fullback Tony Fiammetta, who broke free for a 30-yard gain. Martellus Bennett had six catches for 68 yards. Cutler also tried three deep passes to Jeffery in the second half.

“I had my opportunities,” said Jeffery, who had one 27-yard catch. “The defense has to feel like any of us can [go off] at any time.”

There’s no reason why Marshall and Jeffery can’t be one of the top receiving tandems in the league. The size and talent are there, so is the scheme under coach Marc Trestman.

It was Trestman’s multiple-look offense that got Marshall open. Jeffery attracted extra attention, and Cutler found Marshall repeatedly.

As Trestman’s offense evolves and everyone from Cutler on down becomes more comfortable, the success of Marshall and Jeffery could develop into a pick-your-poison situation for opponents.

Marshall’s first touchdown catch reflected that. Marshall and Jeffery were in opposite slots, and the Giants were in zone coverage with split safeties. Jeffery ran a route underneath the linebackers; Marshall raced past them for a wide-open 10-yard score.

“That was an easy one,” Cutler said. “You don’t get layups like that very often.”

But if Marshall and Jeffery continue to thrive, there’s a good chance those layups can happen more often.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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