By Adam Hoge-
A panel of 14 Score hosts, reporters and producers ranked their top 10 players in terms of how important they will be in determining the success or failure of the 2013 Chicago Bears. We compiled the rankings into one master list and will unveil one of the 10 most important Bears each weekday as we countdown to training camp.
(CBS) It’s an odd sentiment when fans — and even coaches — are looking for a wide receiver’s numbers to go down.
But that’s where the Bears (sort of) are with wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who set franchise records for both receptions (118) and receiving yards (1,508) last season.
The problem isn’t that Marshall was too productive, it’s that the rest of the team didn’t do enough. Quarterback Jay Cutler zeroed in on his favorite target all season, and while Marshall delivered, the offense often stalled because it was too one dimensional.
In a perfect world, Marshall’s numbers would stay right where they were in 2012 while the rest of the receivers up their output as a result of the Bears having the ball more and scoring more as a team. Realistically though, if the Bears’ offense is more balanced, Marshall’s totals are bound to decrease. Of course, that’s OK as long as the whole unit is finding the endzone more.
Marshall missed most of the team’s offseason workouts because of hip surgery following the 2012 season. He was present on the sidelines throughout the offseason, but didn’t participate until the very end. He’s supposedly healthy for training camp, but it will be interesting to see if that is true. If Marshall is limited at all during camp, it will raise valid questions about whether or not he’ll be 100 percent during the season.
The Bears can’t afford to lose Marshall. They haven’t had a receiver of his caliber in a longtime (maybe ever) and new head coach Marc Trestman needs all the weapons he can get. The depth at wide receiver is thin, but if the starters can stay healthy, Cutler could have a successful season. It’s a contract year for the quarterback and you know he wants (and needs) his favorite receiver on the field to get paid.
Ultimately, the success or failure of this season rides on Cutler and the success or failure of Cutler largely rides on Brandon Marshall.
The 10 Most Important Bears Panel: Dan Hampton, Hub Arkush, Zach Zaidman, Laurence Holmes, Matt Spiegel, Adam Hoge, Matt Abbatacola, Ben Finfer, Nick Shepkowski, Herb Lawrence, Joe Ostrowski, Chris Tannehill, Adam Harris and Dan Durkin.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.