By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) Jay Cutler expected the Colts to double-team Brandon Marshall a lot Sunday. They didn’t. And they paid for it.
Marshall finished with nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown.
It remains to be seen if the Packers will take a different approach Thursday when the two teams clash at Lambeau Field, but their head coach has taken notice of what is going on 171 miles to the south.
“Obviously with the production that Brandon Marshall had in the first game and the relationship that Marshall and Cutler have from their past in Denver, you can see they got off the way they wanted,” McCarthy told Chicago reporters on a conference call Tuesday. “I like the receiver group. I think it’s definitely improved. And you’ve got to like the 1-2 punch with Forte and Bush.”
Surely, it’s not just Marshall that makes the Bears’ passing game so dangerous. Rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has emerged as a legitimate threat and that has put Earl Bennett and Devin Hester in a comfort zone as the third or fourth options.
In the past, the Packers have had success against Bears receivers with press coverage, but Cutler doubts that will work Thursday.
“Good luck,” he said. “I mean we got some dudes that if you’re going to get up there in their face, even our speed guys are going to get around them and our big guys are going to throw and go. We invite press coverage and we invite man and if we get in that type of game, our guys outside need to make some plays for us.”
“It’s all about matchups,” he said. “I’m 6-5, 230 and there aren’t too many DBs walking around that big. So if they want to get physical, I do welcome that.”
Meanwhile, Matt Forte — the guy McCarthy is usually worried about — hasn’t gone anywhere. Clearly, the Packers are going to be introduced to a different offensive beast Thursday night in Green Bay.
What’s more, Cutler believes the short week will help the Bears because the Packers won’t have a lot of time to adapt to his new weapons.
“I think there’s a big difference to what we are doing offensively,” he said. “This is a totally different scheme and direction that we’re going offensively. There would be no advantage to watching tape of last year. It’s totally different. I think they understand that.”
The Packers definitely understand that, although McCarthy said they are still watching some Bears film from last season. And that’s likely because there hasn’t been much change on the Bears’ offensive line, where the Packers can still cause plenty of problems. If they can put pressure on Cutler, an opportunistic Packers’ secondary will take advantage.
“You look at (Traman) Williams and (Sam) Shields and even (Charles) Woodson when he’s down there, they like to mix it up a lot,” Marshall said. ‘They like to give you different looks and that’s what gives them big play potential.”
Cutler said one option is for the Packers to have Woodson follow Marshall around. He’s been working at safety this season, but is still flexible to move around and does frequently in nickel packages. And even though the Packers’ secondary struggled in their Week 1 loss to the 49ers, he isn’t taking the unit lightly.
“They play very sound football,” the quarterback said. “They keep everything in front of them, they gap control, they drop in coverage and they cover a lot of holes with not a lot of guys. It’s impressive to see those guys whenever they are playing their Cover-2 and 1 and 3. They don’t really disguise much but what they do they are very, very good at.”
But for the first time in a long time, the Bears’ offense heads to Green Bay knowing that they are also very, very good at what they do.
“There’s a different energy in the locker room, especially offensively,” Cutler said. “There’s a different confidence in this group.”
And that might a scary thought for the 0-1 Packers to digest right now.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.