Reporting Adam Hoge
By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) Brandon Marshall is frustrated.
He’s frustrated about getting double-covered. He’s frustrated about not getting the ball. And most of all, he’s frustrated that the Bears lost their second-straight game Sunday.
“We’re struggling a little bit and as a receiver, you always want the ball because you think you can help the offense or the team move the ball down the field,” Marshall said after Sunday’s 26-18 loss to the Saints. “So the past few weeks have been frustrating, but it’s part of the game, man. Each year is different.”
Indeed, this year is different. Most notably because the Bears have much better weapons around Marshall, which is why on the first day of training camp the wide receiver said he was just fine with his numbers dipping this season if it meant the offense was moving the ball better.
Yet a month later, Marshall stood at his locker at Halas Hall and questioned his role in the offense. Then, just last week, he expressed frustration about the amount of looks he got in the Bears’ loss to the Lions, even though he had seven catches (and two drops) on a game-high 14 targets.
In fact, Marshall entered Sunday’s game with more targets through four games (42) than he had last season through four games (39).
So what exactly is he frustrated about?
“The frustration comes from when we’re not winning and the offense isn’t moving the ball. It has nothing to do with me,” Marshall said. “It’s about I want to win. Like I’ve always said, I’ve got a nice contract, I’ve been to Pro Bowls, I made All-Pro. I want to win and sometimes I think the formula may go to me and sometimes it’s not. But whatever is best for the team to win, that’s what we need to do. I’m always going to be frustrated when our offense isn’t No. 1 in the league. I’m always going to be frustrated when we’re losing so yeah, I’m frustrated. We just lost. We just lost two in a row.”
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The losing may bring the frustration to a forefront, but it’s about more than just not winning. Despite still being on track for 99 catches and over 1,200 receiving yards, Marshall has said he wants the ball more and voluntarily mentioned frustration with some of the play calling.
“I just try to be there because if you beat yourself up too much or you get too down or too frustrated at the play calling or the coverage, the ball comes your way and you drop it,” he said.
And evidently, that has happened this season when he has tried to give his input.
“Sometimes you can communicate too much,” Marshall said. “You know, I was too frustrated and there were times when the ball came my way and I’d drop it because I was so frustrated. So I think what’s best for the team is for me to just stay where I’m supposed to be and that’s at wide receiver. If I try to be a coach or try to discuss things, that may get us in trouble.”
It may have gotten him in trouble last week as Marshall admitted Sunday that his body language last week in Detroit “let myself down and the guys around me.” He said improving his body language was his No. 1 goal this week.
“I got better at that today,” he said. “They took me out of the game and that’s one positive for myself. I just tried to keep my head up and keep myself ready for when I’m available to the team whenever they call my number. So I’m proud of myself today. Sorry for patting myself on the back, but there’s not too much I can hang my hat on today. We lost. I got shutout.”
Part of the problem may be Marshall’s high expectations for himself. He caught four passes on five targets for 30 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 26-18 loss to the Saints. Those aren’t Brandon Marshall type numbers, but they’re also not getting “shutout”.
“They weren’t going to let him have a good day,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said afterward. “They were doubling him in the slot. In the red zone they were doubling him up over the top. They decided hey, it’s not going to happen. They were going to take him out of the ball game.”
But Marshall knew that was going to happen at times this season. He said he was prepared for it. He even prepped teammate Alshon Jeffery for it.
“That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to bring (Jeffery) down to South Florida (in the offseason) with me because of times like this,” Marshall said. “I didn’t think the season was going to be like this where it was going to be hard to get me the ball. But at times you need another guy on the other side and this guy had a career day, over 200 yards.”
A franchise-record 218 yards on 10 catches to be exact.
So the question is: Is Marshall really OK with his role? Even if his best contribution at times is getting his teammates open?
“I just have to hang my hat on that I’m doing what’s best for the team,” Marshall said, almost sounding as if he was trying to convince himself.
Meanwhile, his head coach and quarterback are doing their best to keep him happy.
“I want to get Brandon the ball,” head coach Marc Trestman insisted. “We want to get Brandon the ball.”
“It’s going to come,” Cutler said. “You can’t just keep doubling him and let another receiver go for 200. It’s silly to keep doing that. So ‘B’ is going to get his. He’s just got to keep trusting us and he has. He’s been great to work for so far.”
Hopefully it stays that way.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.