Stop Marshall, you stop the Bears offense

Packers dare Cutler to beat them with someone else; it didn't happen

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Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall on the struggles of the offense in loss to Packers.

When you are handed a fresh defensive game plan in the NFL, the amount of information that is suddenly dropped into your lap can be overwhelming.

It starts with personnel. Then it moves to down-and-distance tendencies, alignments, formations, play action, one- and two-back runs, splits, route combinations and protection schemes.

It's a lot to take in on a Wednesday morning. And that's only first and second down. You still have to get through third down, red zone, the two-minute drill and crucial situations.

But after watching the Bears offense struggle yet again in another loss to the Packers, are they really that tough to prep for?

Think about it. You sit down on a Wednesday morning and pull out a highlighter. Your goal? Check off all of Brandon Marshall's alignments. What routes does he run in the slot or at the Z, the X, in a stack, a bunch?

Hey, after that you can just read your keys and play ball.

This offense goes through No.15. Yeah, it's really that simple. And when you take him out of the game, who is going to beat you?

The run game? Nope. It's just not good enough. The offensive line? Not a chance. Devin Hester? Doubtful. The tight end? Come on. The rookie, Alshon Jeffery? A nice talent, but he's not ready yet.

The Packers opted to play a true bracket look versus Marshall and eliminate any possibility of the Pro Bowl receiver beating them out in the field and on the goal line.

Walk a safety down to play a "slice" technique in the slot and use a "cut" call outside of the numbers. With the corner sitting low, you can limit the inside breaking cuts Marshall has made his money on this season.

Two-on-one. Try to beat it.

The curl? The dig? The slant? Forget about it. Those are gone when you dedicate two players to one receiver or move to a 2-Man look. Take your pick. They both get the job done.

And outside of a heck of a play by Marshall when he broke multiple tackles for a touchdown, the Packers didn't allow the big play. They erased the deep corner route, the fade and the inside seam that can create field position.

Dom Capers' defense dictated the flow of that game and told Jay Cutler to beat them with someone else.

And he couldn't.

Sure, Cutler tried. He always does. The guy competes. But that led to some miscommunication on route concepts, overthrows and situations where Marshall had to play some sandlot ball just to try to get open.

That's not good enough in the pro game.

Cutler began targeting Jeffery as a fallback plan. But Jeffery had a hard time trying to separate against Sam Shields. That's why you saw the suspect calls, the push-off in the end zone and the rookie working hard at the top of the route stem to create some room. He is going to be a good player in this league, but extending the arms on contact is going to be called.

Shields was on Jeffery's hip almost every time (with no help), including the no-call late in the fourth quarter.

Did the refs blow that one? Maybe they did. But that doesn't change the fact that this offense looks stale and stagnant when Marshall isn't getting open.

I'm not questioning the Bears offense's effort. But looking at this unit from a defensive perspective, who scares you outside of No.15?

No one. And that's the real problem.

Twitter @MattBowen41

Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. You also can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com.

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