Defiant Marshall Will Challenge Pass Defense

Green Bay, as we pointed out earlier this week, has locked up the opponents' top receivers lately. And Green Bay had plenty of success against Brandon Marshall last year, no matter what he told Packer Report during a conference call.

Brandon Marshall is one of the NFL's most talented and physically imposing receivers.

He's also one of the most defiant.

During a conference call on Thursday, Packer Report asked Marshall about the Green Bay Packers' "relative success" in defending him and whether new coach Marc Trestman would afford him the opportunity to have more success.

"Well, I don't know where you get that from," Marshall said.

Marshall then turned back the clock to 2007, when he played for Denver, and 2010, when he played for Miami. With the Broncos, he caught three passes for 74 yards. With the Dolphins, he caught 10 passes for 127 yards.

"You go back to Denver days when Al Harris was there, I had a good game, made some good plays even though it was a tough matchup, a lot of give and take," Marshall said. "When I was in Miami, I think I had 100-something yards and we won the game. I think that was ya'll's Super Bowl year, so I don't know where you get that from that it's been tough for me."

What Marshall missed was the preface of the Packers' "relative success."

"Yeah, you're trying to cover yourself, but it wasn't good enough," Marshall said before he could be reminded about 2012.

Last year was his first with Chicago. In the Week 2 game at Lambeau Field, Marshall caught just two passes for 24 yards as Green Bay won 23-10. In Week 15 at Soldier Field, Marshall caught six passes for 56 yards and a touchdown as Green Bay won 21-13.

Before that game in Chicago, Marshall called Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers the team's MVP.

"For their players to be over there talking about how awesome of a job they (do) shutting down certain players, I don't respect that, when it's two and three guys on you or other guys," Marshall told Bears beat reporters at the time. "Coach Capers did an amazing job of game-planning us and game-planning me. I didn't beat double or triple coverage or whatever they were throwing at us."

Marshall's performance against the Packers on Monday night will be the game within the game. In the last three games against Baltimore, Cleveland and Minnesota, the opponents' No. 1 receiver has caught four passes (out of 13 targets) for 42 yards.

"Green Bay does a good job of taking out the No. 1 guy," Marshall said. "After the first game getting torched by Anquan, no other No. 1 has put up huge numbers, so you have to look at that and respect what they do on defense. They're getting better."

This will be a tougher challenge for Green Bay, even with Josh McCown at quarterback in place of Jay Cutler (groin). Marshall, who has caught 46 passes for 540 yards and five touchdowns, is the best receiver the Packers have faced since Week 1, when San Francisco's Anquan Boldin caught 13 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown. Marshall is far better than the Ravens' Torrey Smith, the Browns' Josh Gordon and the Vikings' Greg Jennings. Green Bay also caught a break when it didn't see Calvin Johnson four weeks ago.

"He's definitely a good receiver," Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said on Wednesday. "He's going to be a tough challenge. He's one of those guys. He's big – 6-5, 230 – and he does everything well. He runs pretty good routes. He comes back to the ball. Comes out of his breaks well and he's good after the catch and strong, so he's a guy who presents a lot of challenge. Your best odds are to try to keep him from catching the ball because once he do catch the ball, he's really good with it."

Marshall saw plenty of Williams in the two games last year. Marshall, however, said he doesn't know much about Williams' cover skills because Williams gets so much help "over the top" from a safety.

"It sucks," Marshall said.

Trestman wasn't sure what to expect from the Packers this week. One thing that will help is Chicago's improved offensive diversity. Marshall has been targeted 68 times (on pace for 155), which ranks 15th in the league. Last year, he ranked third with 194 targets. The addition of tight end Martellus Bennett (32 catches, 356 yards, four touchdowns) and maturation of Alshon Jeffery (33 catches, 561 yards, two touchdowns) have made this a more potent offense.

"Each and every week is a little bit different," Trestman said during his conference call. "Brandon has had some exceptional games and he's had some games — just speaking to Brandon — some games that we certainly haven't been happy with the number of targets that he's had. Overall, we don't really try to think about it. We try to move people around and get guys in different places. Playing a Dom Capers defense, you really don't know what you're going to get. There's so much mobility and fluidity to what they have defensively that you just can't call plays with the expectation of, ‘They're going to take this guy away or that guy away.' You've just got to call good plays and hope your quarterback can find the single-covered guy or the open receiver."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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