Against Carr, Marshall has upper hand

Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall said yesterday he hates playing against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr. Yet according to the numbers, it's Carr who should be worried.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall told Dallas media yesterday that he hates facing Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr.

"I don't like playing against Brandon Carr," Marshall said. "He presents a lot of tough challenges throughout a game. You'll notice he changes up his game when he plays against bigger receivers. He's strong. He's physical. He plays that way against guys like myself.

"I absolutely hate the matchup. It's like playing chess out there with him. Every single play is a battle. He just makes you work so hard."

Carr is a Pro Bowl corner who began his career in Kansas City, squaring off against Marshall and Jay Cutler twice a year in 2008 and 2009 – although Marshall sat out the season finale in 2009. Carr, known as one of the better cover corners in the league, made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and led the league in pass defended (25) in 2010.

Yet against Marshall, Carr has been routinely victimized. Here are Marshall's numbers in five career games facing Carr:

2008: 7 catches, 77 yards, 1 TD
2008: 11 catches, 91 yards, 2 TDs
2009: 7 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD
2011: 8 catches, 106 yards, 1 TD
2012: 7 catches, 138 yards, 1 TD

Total (5 games): 40 catches, 506, 6 TDs
Average vs. Carr: 8 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD

The numbers show a one-sided matchup in every contest. And against Marshall, Carr has just one interception. Additionally, in all but one of those games, Cutler was the one throwing to Marshall, so there's comfort and familiarity from the quarterback position as well - something Cutler can impart to Josh McCown.

Obviously, Marshall was being complimentary in his public comments, as Carr is the one who should be sweating this matchup. Dallas has the 31st ranked passing defense in the league, so the Bears will passing early and often, which will put a lot of stress on Carr to keep pace. And with the emergence of Alshon Jeffery this season, the Cowboys may be less inclined to roll coverage in Marshall's direction, leaving even less help for Carr.

According to Pro Football Focus, Carr has been below average this season. Opposing receivers are catching 60.2 percent of passes thrown at Carr, while opposing quarterbacks have 79.9 QB rating against him. According to STATS, he's tied for third in the league in catches allowed (46), for 750 yards and 2 TDs. Against Marshall, Carr is going to have to be much better than average, otherwise Chicago's Pro Bowl wideout will again eat his lunch.

And if that happens, and the Cowboys are forced to help Carr over the top, Jeffery will have a field day in man coverage against 5-10 Orlando Scandrick, who has struggled against receiver's with Jeffery's size.

With 2,099 combined yards, Jeffery and Marshall are the top receiving duo in the NFL this season. Jeffery is fourth in the league in receiving yardage (1,109) less than 200 from the league leader (Calvin Johnson, 1,299 yards). If both players stay on their current pace, the Bears may send two receivers to the Pro Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

So if Jeffery and Marshall again dominate in a must-win contest, there's no reason the Bears can't outscore Tony Romo and the Dallas offense, particularly in the frigid conditions expected at Soldier Field on Monday night.


Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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