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Marshall potent weapon for Bears

Receiver makes big plays, draws attention to create opportunities for others

Dan Pompei

On the NFL

8:28 PM CDT, October 8, 2012

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The vision for this Bears offense was to be able to allow opposing defenses to pick their poison.

That vision became reality in Jacksonville as the Bears were proficient at gashing the Jaguars with whatever the Jaguars concentrated the fewest resources on.

The Jaguars wanted to shadow Brandon Marshall with cornerback Derek Cox. So by moving Marshall around, the Bears could determine what coverage the Jaguars would play.

There were times, especially early, when the Bears probably were a little too dependent on Marshall. But that set up payoffs late in the game.

Alshon Jeffery's 10-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter might not have happened without Marshall's early success. The Jaguars had both Cox and safety Chris Prosinski jamming Marshall at the line as if he were a gunner on a punt team.

With the Bears running a two-man route, the other safety was preoccupied with a tight end. That left Jeffery one-on-one with Rashean Mathis, and he ran a simple slant toward the middle of the field that Prosinski normally would take away.

Devin Hester's spectacular 39-yard catch also was made possible by Marshall because the safety rolled to Marshall's side, leaving Hester one-on-one with Mathis.

Here's what else we learned upon further review.

Grading key: Grades are between 0 and 10 with 0 being complete failure and 10 being perfect.

Wide receivers

Grade: 9

Marshall made the most of his opportunities, making tough catches like he did on the 11-yard gain when he was drilled low by linebacker Russell Allen, creating separation like he did with a stutter-step move on Cox on his 24-yard touchdown, and gaining yards on his own like he did on his 15-yard second-quarter gain (9 came after the catch)

Running backs

Grade: 9

All three Bears running backs took advantage of some nice creases, showing vision and determination. The backs averaged 6.19 yards per carry, and they contributed another 46 yards in receiving.

What the Bears backs did best was apply body blows once the Jaguars were on the ropes.

On a drive that began late in the third quarter, Michael Bush accounted for 41 yards and three first downs. He refused to go down without a fight, and he even went Renaldo Nehemiah on Prosinski, hurdling him for one of the first downs after a catch.

Forte ran for 45 of his yards in the fourth quarter before letting Allen have a little fun.

Quarterback

Grade: 7.5

Cutler was not as spectacular in this game as he was in the previous game, and he really only found his groove after the defense broke it open.

But he managed the game well and took care of the football with the exception of one regrettable throw that was intercepted and a third-quarter end zone pass to a well-covered Marshall that could have been picked.

Cutler probably could have had a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jeffery, but his back-shoulder end zone pass was placed a little too wide for Jeffery to get his feet in bounds.

Cutler had two nice runs, but he finished one with a stiff arm (using his throwing hand) and the other ended with him taking a hard, low hit on the sidelines. He has to slide on those plays.

Tight ends

Grade: 4

If not for some of the run blocks, this grade would be lower.

Kellen Davis dropped a pass. In the third quarter, he and Kyle Adams failed to block defensive end Jeremy Mincey, who creamed Cutler after a pass.

Offensive line

Grade: 6

The focus is always on the pass protection, but the line deserves credit for getting push in the run game and making blocks on the second level.

The Jaguars were playing subs and things were getting sloppy at the time, but Allen's fourth-quarter 46-yard touchdown run was blocked so well that Allen might have had time to score if he were walking on his hands.

Chilo Rachal and J'Marcus Webb blew open the hole by taking care of Terrance Knighton and Andre Branch. Gabe Carimi came around to the left side to wipe out linebacker Julian Stanford. And Roberto Garza showed some quicks by getting out to take care of the middle linebacker.

Considering the Bears were not exactly going against the Fearsome Foursome (zero sacks in the previous three games), the pass protection could have been better. But it was not terrible.

Carimi struggled with false starts on consecutive plays, a holding penalty, a sack allowed and three pressures allowed.

Safeties

Grade: 9

Major Wright and Chris Conte are stringing solid games together. Both were used extensively against the run, and both made good reads and almost always took the proper angles and made solid tackles, even in the open field against the elusive Maurice Jones-Drew.

The Bears deviated from their usual Cover-2 look by playing single safety high 62 percent of the time on first downs or second downs of 10 yards or fewer to go before the last three Jacksonville possessions of the game.

Moving down Conte or Wright was the key to holding Jones-Drew to a 2.6-yard average, if you take away one fourth-quarter run.

Cornerbacks

Grade: 9

With less safety help than usual, the corners held up against a mediocre group of wide receivers and a novice quarterback.

Charles Tillman took advantage of an apparent quarterback-receiver miscommunication for a pick-six. Tim Jennings was beaten by Cecil Shorts on a 34-yard play, but he had three nice pass breakups.

Defensive line

Grade: 5.5

It's great that Corey Wootton came on strong and easily performed better than any of the other lineman. But what does that say about the other linemen?

Henry Melton had some nice rushes as usual, and Wootton and Melton worked together well on one sack. But they could have used a little more help.

Wootton was outstanding. He was anticipating the snap count and beating everyone on both lines off the ball. In fact, he was fortunate he wasn't called for offsides on a couple of occasions.

There were three offsides calls against other linemen.

Linebackers

Grade: 9

This group accounted for an interception returned for a touchdown (by Lance Briggs), a sack (Briggs) two tackles for zero yards or less and three pass breakups.

Briggs continues to play exceptional football. Brian Urlacher created Briggs' interception opportunity by hitting Jones-Drew as the ball arrived.

Urlacher and Briggs also contributed to Tillman's touchdown with downfield blocks.

Special teams

Grade: 3.5

It was another nondescript performance by the special teams.

The Jaguars punted and covered well, but Devin Hester did a little too much dancing.

Sherrick McManis was called for holding twice.

dompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei