For Marshall, fast starts aren't necessary

Chicago's offense has started slowly in nearly every contest this season, yet that's fine with Brandon Marshall, who says more importance should be placed on how they finish games.

Through eight games this season, the Chicago Bears have scored 236 points. The club has allowed just 120 points, giving them a +116 point differential, which is the best in the league.

The vast majority of the Bears' points have been scored in the second half, as the offense has consistently struggled out of the gates. Chicago has scored 95 total points in the first and second quarters combined, which is the same amount they've posted in the fourth quarter alone.

The slow starts have put the Bears in some early binds. Their strong second halves have made up for the lack of production in the first half, yet that may not be enough in the second half of the season, where the schedule gets considerably tougher.

This is especially so against the Houston Texans on Sunday, a team that likes to get out to fast starts. The Texans have scored 139 points in first halves this year, which is the most in the NFL. This continues a trend started in 2011, when Houston ranked second in the league in first-half point differential (+100). If the Bears get off to a slow start this weekend, Houston could build an insurmountable lead.

This puts extra emphasis on the offense to start the game with some energy, instead of waiting until the second half to kick it into gear.

"We've got to execute [early]," Jay Cutler said today. "I think we've got to recognize what they're playing and attack them a certain way according to what coverage and fronts we're seeing."

Yet despite the slow starts, Chicago currently sits atop the NFC North with a 7-1 record, devaluing the importance of scoring early.

"I don't care how we start," said Brandon Marshall. "I think it's all about how we finish."

Marshall is referring to the play of Cutler, who has been an absolute beast in the fourth quarter this season. He currently leads the league with a 135.0 fourth-quarter passer rating, completing 38 of 51 passes for 583 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions in the final frame.

"[Cutler] is ‘The Closer,'" said Marshall. "Fourth-quarter time, crunch time, he has that aura about him that just spells greatness. Great players, it's how you finish. It's the second half of the season, or second half [of games] or last two minutes. It's how you finish and that's where he's special."

Which means, even with the early struggles, the Bears aren't going to change their strategy for as long as the team keeps winning.

"You guys have to understand we're not going to look like the New England Patriots," Marshall said. "We're not going to look like the New Orleans Saints' offense. We're the Chicago Bears' offense. We scored 37 points last week. We have great receivers. We have one of the best running backs. We have one of the best quarterbacks, one of the best closers in the game. We have passionate coaches.

"We are the Chicago Bears, and that's how we're going to win games. It's not going to look like New Orleans or Green Bay, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos. We're going to do it our own way."

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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