By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) As Brandon Marshall walked towards the podium in the Soldier Field interview room, his quarterback — and close friend — reached out to slow him up and said something.
Marshall walked right past him.
Jay Cutler had just finished giving his honest assessment of the Bears’ 21-13 loss to the Packers — their sixth straight defeat at the hands of Green Bay. He said what you think he would: The Bears weren’t good offensively, the officials were inconsistent and his team still has a chance to make the playoffs.
All true. But Marshall was about to be even more honest.
“Everybody involved in the offense should be held accountable, even if that means jobs,” he said.
In the NFL, you know it’s serious when players are talking about people’s jobs.
“It’s been this way all year,” Marshall said. “There’s no excuse. We still have two games left. There’s still hope, but at the same time we need to be held accountable.”
He didn’t single anyone out, but that’s understandable because it would have taken awhile. From Lovie Smith to Mike Tice to Jeremy Bates to the entire offensive line to all of his fellow receivers, Marshall has a case to be talking about others’ job security.
Even his quarterback, who yes, isn’t elite but is more than serviceable, threw a brutal interception at the end of the first half that helped give the Packers a 14-7 lead.
Maybe that had something to do with why Marshall didn’t feel like listening to what Cutler had to say to him before he addressed the media.
Singling anyone out here is counterproductive though. Brandon Marshall is the only member of the Bears’ offense that doesn’t deserve to have his job evaluated after the season. After a 7-1 start, the Bears are 1-5 in their last six games and it’s mainly because the offense is averaging just 14 points per game in that span.
Here’s 2012 in a nutshell: The Bears told embattled offensive coordinator Mike Martz to get lost, added the best wide receiver in franchise history to the roster and somehow got worse.
Frankly, it’s about time someone within the Bears’ family spoke up and no one deserved to be the man to do it more than Brandon Marshall.
“It’s very frustrating. You can see it on my face right now. Self explanatory,” he said. Marshall then took a long pause because he was fighting back tears. Finally, he gave up trying to finish his thought.
Marshall came to Chicago openly talking about his borderline personality disorder. He vowed he had matured and was dealing with his issues properly. So far, he has held up his end of the bargain and more.
In fact, even in his post game press conference Sunday, Marshall expressed concerns about how the Bears’ struggles are impacting him.
“What I got to do is try my best to keep it together and not let this affect me,” he said. “Because it’s starting to affect me, more than it should. You know, I love this game, I’m very passionate about this game. And right now it’s affecting me way too much. I’m trying my all to do my job so, that’s it.”
That was it. Marshall had said all he could and left the room.
The reality here is that Marshall is just the latest talent wasted on Bears. It’s becoming more and more evident that Brian Urlacher — a future Hall-of-Famer and unquestioned face of the franchise for the last decade — will not win a Super Bowl. The fact that he had Lance Briggs and extremely good defenses with him most of the way makes that reality that much harder to swallow. Meanwhile, after decades of inconsistent quarterback play, the Bears finally went out and added Jay Cutler, yet four seasons later the offense is as “Chicago Bears” as ever.
The list of reasons for the Bears’ failure to win a Super Bowl during Lovie Smith’s tenure as head coach is very long. No. 1 on that list is undoubtedly poor drafting, but that was addressed a year ago when Jerry Angelo was let go. Next up on the list, however, is — and should be — the inability to find a great offensive mind, install a reliable offensive system and execute to the highest level with what you have.
That falls on the head coach — no questions asked. And before you excuse Lovie Smith for having a poor offensive line, remember that his offensive coordinator was the one who repeatedly championed J’Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi as his offensive tackles. Carimi, previously benched at tackle, was also benched at guard in Sunday’s loss. Even Mike Tice has waived the white flag there.
And while the Bears continue to try to win with defense, the rest of the league is separating itself. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Bears’ own division where the Packers have now beaten them six straight times.
“It’s not a rivalry anymore,” Cutler said. “It’s a domination.”
Such a truth can certainly not be ignored by general manager Phil Emery, who didn’t hire Smith, but surely knows the head coach made beating the Packers a high priority when he arrived in Chicago.
This year, the Packers were two-games behind the Bears in the standings twice, yet managed to clinch the NFC North on the Bears’ own field with two weeks remaining in the season. Based on Smith’s own expectations preached throughout his tenure, that is unacceptable.
“You need to beat your rival and we haven’t gotten it done,” Smith said Sunday.
So excuse Brandon Marshall for telling the honest truth. Everyone does indeed have to be held accountable. Even if it means jobs.
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.