Greg Jennings thinks Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall is
made headlines one day earlier when he went off on the rival Green
Bay Packers during his weekly media availability. But it was
something Marshall said later that Jennings found brilliant:
Marshall's attempt to bait the Packers into matching their
cornerbacks up with him man-to-man.
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers "did an amazing job of
game-planning me" in the teams' Sept. 13 meeting, in which
Marshall caught only two passes for 24 yards in a 23-10 Packers
victory. Then, Marshall dared the Packers to try to cover him
one-on-one in Sunday's rematch at Soldier Field.
beat double or triple coverage or whatever they were throwing at
us," Marshall said. "I take it as a slap in my face when
guys talk about my lack of ability to do something against them when
they have help all over the place. I'm looking forward to one-on-one
coverage. Hopefully, those guys in games like this may go to their
coach and say, 'Let me have him. I want Brandon Marshall. I want to
stop Brandon Marshall. Let me have him one-on-one, press coverage.'
And we'll see what happens."
Jennings had answered questions for about three minutes before
bringing up -- unprompted - what Marshall had said.
he's smart for saying whatever he said. So I'm going to be smart,
too," Jennings said, a wide smile stretching across his face.
"Man, I wish the Bears would play us one-on-one and man-to-man.
he's smart. That reverse psychology, I think it's pretty impressive.
So yeah, man, the Bears are always playing cover 2. I think they're
scared not to play cover 2."
he said, "I'll give it a shot."
The cover 2
defense has been like kryptonite to the Packers' previously
unstoppable offense this season. Using two deep safeties to take
away big plays, the scheme has prevented Green Bay from replicating
last year's success, when the Packers scored 560 points (second-most
in NFL history) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers won the NFL MVP by
throwing for 45 touchdowns with only six interceptions.
Jennings called Marshall's statements a "tactic."
one-on-one.' What receiver doesn't want you to play man-to-man
coverage the entire game?" he said.
Here's the bad
news for Marshall: There's no way Capers is going to do that on
every down Sunday. Even with cornerback Tramon Williams' ability to
cover, he's assured of having help over the top from a safety much
of the time, as he frequently did against Detroit's Calvin Johnson
in the team's two games against the Lions this year.
Capers' scheme is certainly complex, one of the main tenets of the
veteran coordinator's approach is simple: Stop the opponent's best
Johnson, or Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, or, yes,
Marshall, Capers formulates his defensive game plan each week by
asking himself which offensive players could hurt his defense the
most. While the results have varied over the last few years, the
approach has remained the same.
look at an offense, we look at who their top two or three producers
are," Capers said recently. "And (we ask), what do you
have to try to do to limit their production? (We're) going to say,
'Well, this is where we have to start.'
you have to take away to win the game?"
For the Bears,
it's obviously Marshall.
caught 101 passes for 1,342 yards and nine touchdowns, while
Chicago's next three wide receivers have a combined 65 receptions
for 748 yards and five TDs.
had seven 100-yard games this season and has caught at least 10
passes in his last three games. The only other team to shut him down
was San Francisco, which held Marshall to two receptions for 21
yards Nov. 19, when quarterback Jay Cutler missed the game with a
concussion and backup Jason Campbell started in his place.
safety Morgan Burnett, Capers' weekly Wednesday presentation to the
defense begins with a portion of the slide show listing the opposing
team's top players. Even though it's self-evident, the emphasis
helps remind the Packers of how important it will be to contain
those targets. This Wednesday, the discussion predictably began with
Marshall, Burnett said.
what they like to do. You watch the film; you know who the go-to guy
is," Burnett said Thursday. "At the same time, that
doesn't mean you just ignore everyone else.
course, Brandon Marshall is the go-to guy. But you still have
(other) playmakers in Devin Hester. You have the rookie, Alshon
Jeffery, who's a big receiver, and then you have (running back) Matt
Forte, who's a threat in the running game and the passing
joins Marshall in unloading on Packers
Ill. — The NFL's oldest rivals are spicing up their Sunday
showdown with some serious trash talk.
linebacker Lance Briggs unloaded on the Packers on Thursday, saying
he's no fan of Green Bay and calling Jermichael Finley "an
idiot." Wide receiver Brandon Marshall went off Wednesday,
saying he's never disliked a team as much as the Packers.
similar," Briggs said Thursday when asked if he felt the same
way. "Think he said it best, though. Doesn't like them, and
he's going to play this game like it's his last. I feel the same
took issue with Finley for telling FOXSportsWisconsin.com the Bears
might be better off with linebacker Brian Urlacher sidelined by a
hamstring injury. The Packers' tight end was quoted as saying
Chicago is not "losing too much if he's out."
that, Briggs responded, "He's an idiot. You know?"
suit up, play ball," he said. "His comments aren't going
to change the outcome of the game, they're not going to help him or
anybody play better. Doesn't really matter."
Thursday on Twitter that he "meant no disrespect" to
Urlacher, who has already missed one game and could be out the
remainder of the season. He called the Bears' veteran a Hall of Fame
player and person, and wrote "his replacement in the lineup
(Nick Roach) is a good player as well."
the comments have added a twist to a game that really didn't need
After all, the
Packers (9-5) can clinch the NFC North with a win on Sunday. The
Bears (8-5) are trying to hang on after dropping four of five in
another late-season collapse. Chicago fell apart a year ago once Jay
Cutler broke his right thumb and finished 8-8 after a 7-3 start.
That cost general manager Jerry Angelo his job, with Phil Emery
with expectations soaring after they acquired Marshall, Chicago won
seven of its first eight games. But the schedule took a tougher
turn. Injuries started to pile up, too.
Urlacher, cornerback Tim Jennings sat out last weekend's game
against Minnesota with a shoulder injury. Cutler, who missed a game
last month because of a concussion, couldn't finish against the
Vikings because of a sore neck and also had a knee issue listed on
the injury report. He was a limited participant Thursday, although
coach Lovie Smith said he practiced "without any trouble at
to play this weekend, but the Bears will be without kicker Robbie
Gould (calf) after placing him on injured reserve.
are only a small part of the list, but they won't get much sympathy
from the Packers. They've endured more than their share, yet they're
sailing along with seven wins in eight games.
Green Bay has
also won seven of eight against Chicago and five straight in the
series, including the NFC title game two years ago. Packers
quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 8-2 against the Bears, and Briggs is
simply tired of losing to them.
been in the games, we just didn't finish," Briggs said.
"We've had opportunities, we've squandered opportunities.
Turnovers, not getting enough turnovers. There's a lot of reason
why, over the years, we haven't won the game. This is a new game.
It's a new opportunity and we have a lot on the line."
is new to the rivalry, Briggs has been with Chicago since he was
drafted in 2003.
get sick of it," he said. "And that to go along with
history and hearing the city, hearing the people from the city, how
important this game is, how important it is to everybody. We'll go
out and we're going to play this game like it's our last."
Notes: WR Earl
Bennett (concussion), RB Michael Bush (ribs) DE Shea McClellin
(knee) and DT Henry Melton (chest) did not practice, along with
Jennings and Urlacher. Smith said Melton was excused for personal
reasons. Briggs (knee, hip), TE Kellen Davis (knee), LB Geno Hayes
(knee), OT Jonathan Scott (shoulder) and DT Matt Toeaina (knee) were
limited. G Chris Spencer (knee) was a full participant after sitting
out the past two games, as were Stephen Paea (foot) and Charles