If he starts catching passes, Rodriguez can make the offense less predictable.
• Don't forget about everyone not wearing No. 15 in the passing game.
I would not suggest that Brandon Marshall has been thrown to too frequently, because throwing to him has almost always been a good thing.
VOTE: How far will Bears go this season?
How far will the Bears go this season?
Super Bowl (787 responses)
NFC title game (467 responses)
Divisional round of playoffs (306 responses)
Wild card round of playoffs (116 responses)
Miss playoffs (62 responses)
1738 total responses
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- Defense opening some eyes
- Turnovers set table for success
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But other Bears — Hester, Earl Bennett and Matt Forte especially — are going to have to do more than they have as receivers at various points of the season.
Forte is on track to catch 20 fewer passes than a year ago and is capable of much more as a receiver than he has been showing because of the mismatches he can create.
"When you bring in Brandon Marshall, everybody's numbers are going to go down a bit," Smith said. "Going into the year, we were saying our offense can't just be what Matt does. We wanted to get more weapons, multiple guys contributing. That's what we're getting. So Matt's numbers going down, that's a good thing."
• Keep Brian Urlacher in the pool on Thursdays.
The middle linebacker needs to keep making progress in his return from a knee injury.
Limiting the 34-year-old's workload during the week definitely is smart.
• Get more out of Shea McClellin.
The first-round pick has some sacks in him that are dying to get out. He keeps showing progress in practice and in games. Sooner or later that should lead to production, possibly when the Bears need it most.
• Diversify defensive coverages.
Up until last week, the Bears relied heavily on Cover-2. They broke out a little bit against the Jaguars in an attempt to get eight men in the box.
For their defense to be all it can be, it will have to be able to play more than Cover-2. It will have to be able to keep offenses off balance by blitzing, mixing in man-to-man, single high, quarters and man free.
Whether the Bears can be more diverse will depend on how cornerbacks Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and D.J. Moore and safeties Major Wright and Chris Conte hold up when given assignments that may be a bit out of their comfort zone.