I'm pretty sure we've all got Brandon Marshall penciled in as the Bears leading receiver for the 2012 season, that's just a given. In the last 5 seasons his low reception total was 81, and that occured last year with Dolphin quarterbacks Matt Moore and Chad Henne throwing the majority of passes his way. Marshall's high for catches was 104, which he did in 2008 with Jay Cutler throwing to him. If I had to set the over/under for his catches I'd probably put it at 87.
But today we want to know who you think will be second in receptions for the Bears this year. After the jump we'll take a look at who played number 2 to Marshall the last 5 seasons, and speculate on who could be the benefit of the Marshall effect in 2012 for Chicago.
Marshall became a full time starter in 2007, his second season in Denver. He snagged 102 balls with Cutler attempting over 90% of the Broncos passes that year. The second leading receiver that season was tight end Tony Scheffler who hauled in 49 passes. Bears fans should remember the connection that Cutler had with TE Greg Olsen his first year in Chicago, Olsen was the leading receiver that year with 60 receptions. We've seen Kellen Davis flash some receiving and yards after the catch skills, so could he develop the kind of comfort with Cutler to be #2 this year?
In 2008 the Broncos had a 2nd round draft choice by the name of Eddie Royal bring down 91 receptions, second to Marshall's 104. This was Cutler's lone Pro Bowl season and his last in Denver. You could argue that the Cutler to Marshall combo really helped free up Royal for some catches, because without Cutler throwing the football Royal's receptions dropped to 37 the following year. The Bears just happen to have a 2nd round rookie on their roster this year. Could Alshon Jeffery see the field enough to be second on the team in receptions?
In 2009 with Kyle Orton playing QB in Denver, Marshall again topped 100 receptions. His 101 led the team and Jabar Gaffney was second with 54. Gaffney played in all 16 games that year, and he came off the bench in 9 of those games, so the majority of his work was as the 3rd receiver. Gaffney played collegiality at Florida which is in the SEC East Division, which is the same conference that Cutler and his former top receiver at Vanderbilt played in. Could Earl Bennett, who looks best suited as a slot receiver, but may pick up some starts along the way, be the Bears 2nd leading receiver? These parallels are eerie...
Marshall's first year in South Beach was 2010, and he had Chad Henne throwing the majority of passes that year for the Dolphins. His 86 reception led the team, with Miami's primary punt returner Davone Bess coming in second with 79 catches. I think you can see where this one is headed... The Bears primary punt returner also plays wide out, so could Devin Hester have a break out 2012 as a receiver?
Last year Marshall's 81 was followed up again by Bess who caught 51 passes, but running back Reggie Bush was a close third with 43. So... I'm reaching on this one... Perhaps Matt Forte will continue his pass catching prowess and come in behind Marshall this year for the Bears.
Now it's your turn, vote in the poll, and give us your prediction in the comment section. And if you pick "other", be sure to let us know the other you speak of.