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Tuesday, September 28

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Bears Fri Nov 16 2012

Bears: Marshall Is Getting Looks, Paying Off

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngRemember the Randy Ratio?

It was all that was talked about on SportsCenter back in 2002. That year Vikings management tried to keep their mercurial wideout Randy Moss happy by devising a plan to throw 40% of their passes to him. Whether it was a good plan or not, it was came off as a ridiculous scheme. Not only did it confirm that Moss was a prima donna who would mentally and physically check-out if he didn't get attention, but it also was dumb in that the Vikings had no problem announcing this to the league. Hey, here's our gameplan.

Moss had a great year in 2002, but as you can see, he wasn't other-worldly. And while Minnesota's offense put up good numbers, they were only moderately efficient. The Vikes' defense was shoddy, and they went 6-10 that year. The Randy Ratio was scrapped for 2003.

What does this have to do with anything? The Bears are running their own version of the Randy Ratio with Brandon Marshall. The first-year Bear has been targeted on 37% of passes this year, and he is third in the league in looks his way.

He is the Bears number one receiver by far; it's more accurate to call their other starter, Devin Hester, the number three receiver. Marshall has 67 receptions this season, while Earl Bennett is in second with 17. Bennett's game-high catch total is four; Marshall has only had one game in 2012 with less than four catches.

Marshall is the team's top fourth quarter weapon (18 receptions for 302 yards and four TDs), deep threat (12 receptions for 20 or more yards), red zone threat (targeted on 46.7% of throws inside the 20) and chance to move the chains (44 first downs, 16 coming on third down). Basically, if the Bears need to do anything on offense, a play will be drawn up for Marshall.

Even though the offense is one-dimensional, you have to hand it to Marshall. The guy is always getting open. He's been great this year, transforming the Bears (along with their dominant defense) into a legit Super Bowl contender.

So, why not continue the Randy Ratio with Marshall? It's obviously working, and while defenses know the tactic is coming, it's easier said than done to stop a 6'4", 230 lb, 28 year-old marvel in the prime of his career. Can we call the strategy the Marshall Plan? Or has that already been taken? Is it too obvious or played-out?

The Bears, 7-2, head to San Francisco on Monday night to take on the 6-2-1 49ers. Whether quarterback Jay Cutler plays or not, expect Marshall to get his chance to make an impact on the game. The Niners have a super-stingy run defense, so airing it out might be Chicago's only hope on offense (though the 49ers defend the pass well too). You have to do something on offense - unless they go Waterboy on us and take three straight knees and punt - so the Bears will probably go down swinging with their best playmaker, Marshall.

One last thing. The 37% target rate is no accident in Mike Tice's playcalling. The inventor of the Randy Ratio? Former Vikings Head Coach... Mike Tice. Unlike Wile E. Coyote, he's not afraid to use a failed ploy again. This time, it's working a little better.

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