When the Chicago Bears went out and traded for Brandon Marshall last year, perhaps nobody was happier than quarterback Jay Cutler. The two close friends played together in Denver and have a strong relationship both on and off the field. Marshall instantly became Cutler’s top target as he caught a team-leading 118 balls for 1,508 yards in 2012, adding 11 touchdowns. The next closest wide receiver was Earl Bennett with 29 receptions and 375 yards. Marshall cannot continue to catch every ball that Cutler throws; he will continue to receive double and even triple coverage if none of the other Bears’ receivers step up this year.
Last year’s second round draft pick, Alshon Jeffery, is the most likely to start opposite of Marshall in 2013. Jeffery played well last year when he was in the lineup, but he was bothered by a broken hand and a sore knee that limited him to just ten games. He did have 367 yards and three touchdowns in his limited playing time. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Jeffery is a big receiver who has the ability to control some of the smaller cornerbacks in the league, similar to the way Marshall does. Look for Jeffery to have a productive season alongside Marshall, as he will receive plenty of attention from opposing defenses.
The big addition to the Bears’ offense this year is former New York Giants’ tight-end Martellus Bennett. Bennett, not to be confused with wide receiver Earl Bennett, emerged last season as one of the better tight ends in the league as he reeled in 55 balls for 626 yards and five touchdowns. He will be a strong upgrade from Kellen Davis, who seemingly dropped every ball that came his way last year – Davis was released by Chicago and signed with the Cleveland Browns. Bennett will be able to run seam routes through the middle of the field which will cause the safeties to bite to the middle. If effective, he will open the outside for Marshall and Jeffery, which is something that Davis was unable to do.
Earl Bennett is likely to work the slot this year as Devin Hester will be focusing solely on kick returns and possibly punt returns. Hester may work his way onto the field for some offense, but he will be used scarcely. And we cannot forget about Matt Forte, who is one of the better pass-catching runningbacks in the league.
The Bears continue to add pieces to help out quarterback Jay Cutler. Martellus Bennett is the latest piece to the puzzle. With him inside and Marshall and Jeffery on the outside, Chicago will have some of the bigger and stronger receivers and tight ends in the league.
Brandon Marshall Stats