Bar has been set for Cutler, Marshall

Chicago's new passing duo of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall came out with a bang last night against the Redskins. Yet this is an aerial attack that still has a lot of room for improvement.

An impeccably dressed Brandon Marshall slowly adjusted the collar and cuffs of his shirt before turning to face the throng of reporters gathered around his locker after Saturday night's win over the Redskins.

Marshall – calm and collected, a marked contrast to the post-game chaos around him – had good reason to take his time. It had been a fine night for Marshall personally, for his longtime friend Jay Cutler and for the Bears as a whole.

"Smooth as silk, no catch up time at all," Marshall said, referring to the on-field reunion between himself and Cutler, his former Denver quarterback.

That, no doubt, was what Chicago's front office had hoped for when they brought Marshall to Chicago during the offseason, trading away two third round picks to the Miami Dolphins to get him.

The first-team offense played until midway through the second quarter and it looked as if the offense was just starting to roll. At the end of the first quarter, the Bears led 14-0 and held a 133-52 advantage in total yards.

At the half, Chicago led 262-101 in net yards, with 210 of those coming through the air. Marshall averaged 30.5 yards per catch, including a 41-yard strike to start the game, and said he's not surprised at how quickly he's been able integrated into coordinator Mike Tice's system.

"Not at all," Marshall laughed. "After all, that is what I was brought in here for. It's great to be back out there with Jay. We've always had a communication between us that has been quite productive. Just look at some of our stats from the Denver years.

"But it's more than just me and Jay. We've got a top group of wide receivers now, some excellent running backs. The protection is good and the coaches are building on our strengths. In my opinion, it's a system conducive to success."

For the game, rookie wideout Alshon Jeffery led the Bears with three receptions for 62 yards. Marshall had 61 yards on two catches, Eric Weems netted two receptions for 38 yards, and Devin Hester hauled in two passes for 22 yards.

From the way things unfolded last night, it appears the Bears not only will "get off the bus running," as they always have in the past, but will get off the bus passing as well. Just three minutes into the first quarter, Cutler's 41-yard connection with Marshall helped set up Michael Bush for the eventual score. Marshall likes that plan.

"The more weapons we have the better," Marshall said. "That way you confuse other team's defenses. You don't want to give them the same look game after game. I think the entire offense had confidence that we could get things done, either on the ground or through the air. That is more or less a new look for this team and I feel it will lead to good things in the future."

Expectations are high for the team going into the 2012 season but there are questions as well, ranging from the seriousness of Brian Urlacher's knee injury to the competence of the offensive line. When asked about the pressure to succeed, Marshall smiled and leaned back into his locker.

"It is what it is. This is a first-rate team that has the ingredients for success. Some people might be surprised at what we are able to accomplish this year. For myself, it would be expected. I feel I am in a perfect situation to do well and I'm looking forward to going out there and executing that plan."


Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.

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