In today’s late games we learned that the Bears could benefit from having someone not named Brandon Marshall who can catch footballs, while the Panthers need someone who’s not named Cam Newton to run with footballs.
Everybody needs someone sometimes.
Brandon Marshall is the Bears’ passing offense
This is what we expected when a receiver who needed a respectable quarterback (Brandon Marshall) was paired with a quarterback who needed a respectable receiver (Jay Cutler). Cutler may still be expressing stunning indifference to the world while smoking various tobacco products, but we’re finally seeing the return we were anticipating from this union of a crazy man, and a tiny dog lover.
In a game that was just so Jaguars so quickly, Chicago crushed Jacksonville 41-3, and along the way Marshall had 144 receiving yards and a touchdown on 12 catches. It was Marshall’s 12th double-digit reception game of his career, an impressive clip of one every eight games. And while that was a very expected outcome of both this matchup and more generally the Cutler-Marshall marriage, there’s one concerning element that emerges from today, and that’s the utter lack of any other receiving option on the Bears’ offense. Anyone at all.
Six other Bears caught a pass, and they combined for 11 receptions. Was that a product of the blowout? Sure, likely. But prior to today Marshall was on the receiving end for 35 of Cutler’s 90 completions through four weeks. That’s 38 percent, and then the tumble to Alshon Jeffrey’s 14 receptions (15 percent) is significant.
Marshall being the main object of Cutler’s affection is clearly good for fantasy business. But that kind of target and reception ratio isn’t conducive to sustained future production if defenses are allowed to key solely on Marshall. Hopefully the possible return of Earl Bennett next week helps.
Cam Newton needs support too
There were myriad problems with the Panthers’ offense during a loss to Seattle today, starting with Newton’s inaccuracy and his completion percentage of 41.4, a career single-game low. While Newton will never be a true pocket passer, this was a vast departure from the quarterback we saw last year who was followed by questions about his accuracy throughout draft season and during the preseason, and then he proceeded to complete a very respectable 60.0 percent of his passes when it mattered, a rate that dropped below 50.0 in a game only once.
But here’s a thought: can anyone not named Cam Newton make a contribution? More specifically, that would be appreciated on the ground, please. Without a rushing presence that isn’t powered by Newton’s legs, defenses can focus solely on the quarterback, with play-action becoming far less threatening. That’s when Newton is forced to move an offense forward with his arm, and for him, relying solely on that part of his body usually doesn’t end well.
That hurts the Panthers, and it hurts you, the Newton owner. Of course, you’ve had very little to complain about so far, and frankly right now you’re looking a little snooty for bitching about your quarterback who’s fifth overall in fantasy points among QBs. But no one said there’s logic tied to fantasy angst, and when we look at the lack of support from Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams today, you have a target for those voodoo doll pins.
Williams — who thinks you suck — had six yards on six carries, while Stewart had 16 yards on four carries. Toss in Mike Tolbert’s three yards on his single carry, and the Panthers averaged two yards per carry every time they gave a ball to a running back. To thrive and to continue to thrive, the running quarterback needs support from his backfield. While it would be easy to call today an outlier since the Panthers have averaged a good but still not all that good 122 rushing yards per game, we’re still talking about a backfield in which one of its committee members (Williams) had a game earlier this year in Week 1 when he received six carries, and had -1 yards.
Still, you suck, not him.
Chris Johnson sucks again
You were warned, which is what I would say if I didn’t read my own writing, and put myself through the anguish of a Chris Johnson start again. It’s Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, so the turducken has been flowing, and many a man has made a regretful decision when his innards are infused with the meat of multiple animals.
It would also be easy to write that Johnson’s matchuip sucked, and therefore he sucked. But his matchup sucked last week too against Houston, and he had 141 rushing yards on 5.6 yards per carry, after running for only 45 yards over his previous three games.
So then of course he followed that up with just 24 yards today on 1.6 YPC, a pace that’s much more Chris Johnson-y, and in line with his first three games. As humans, we crave normalcy. Thanks for that I guess, Chris.
Looking forward, you should only be deploying Johnson during ideal matchups, or at least more ideal, or maybe just moderately ideal. Basically, he’s sunk to the role of spot starter again after screwing with us last week. He has another tough matchup next week against Pittsburgh, but you have two weeks to use him after that with Buffalo and Indy on deck before Chicago and Miami Crush him again prior to Tennessee’s Week 11 bye.
He’s still the worst.