All right Packer Nation, all together now:
Did that make you feel any better? It seems some fans are moving a little closer to the edge of their seats with the news that the Green Bay Packers’ archrival Chicago Bears trade for wide receiver Brandon Marshall who is now reunited with Jay Cutler from their days together with the Denver Broncos. Throw in that they signed a (somewhat) competent backup to Cutler and the questions suddenly beckons:
Have the Bears tilted the balance of power in the NFC North?
Some Packer fans fear this is really this case. To that, I say hogwash. Cheeseheads always grow tenser this time of year as their divisional rivals sign free agents while the Packers stand pat until the NFL Draft rolls around. It’s common emotion many fans feel during the craziness that usually is the opening days of free agency.
To those anxiety-ridden fans, I say calm yourself. Look at the big picture. The trade for Marshall may not be as big of a win as it looks on paper.
Why you might ask? First off, Marshall is a known troublemaker. He even found trouble this past weekend as the Bears and Miami Dolphins were finalizing this trade. Outside a nightclub in New York, a fight broke out and Marshall is suspected with punching a woman in the face. It won’t be Marshall’s first run in with police nor is it even the first time he has been accused of striking a woman.
Throw in his petulance problems on the practice field (remember that footage of him punting a ball during practice instead of simply handing it to a ball boy?) and this move could be an utter disaster for the locker room of the Bears.
Speaking of the locker room, that brings me to my next point. Marshall will be catching passes thrown by a quarterback whose leadership and decision making skills get called into question every season. Cutler was playing decent football in 2011 before he went down for the year with a thumb injury, but how often did you see him sulking on the sideline in his street clothes instead of coaching up Caleb Hanie or Josh McCown?
The Bears are also an incredibly desperate team. Jerry Angelo was fired as general manager at the end of last season and head coach Lovie Smith barely survived the purge. Smith is coaching for his life this season and desperate teams do desperate and occasionally stupid things. Time will tell if this trade falls into that category, but given Marshall’s past it’s very much a high risk/high reward situation.
Finally, have some fans forgotten to look at the Packers’ roster? The Bears have traditionally had one of the worst receiving corps in the league. Does the addition of Marshall really make them that much more able to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and company?
For their Brandon Marshall, the Packers have Greg Jennings. And Jordy Nelson. And James Jones. And Jermichael Finley. And Randall Cobb.
The Bears have Marshall and….Johnny Knox?
It finally was beginning to look like the Packer faithful had finally bought into Ted Thompson’s way of building a franchise. Last year’s offseason didn’t matter because of a) the lockout and b)the Packers were defending world champions. Thompson could do no wrong.
Now, with the Packers coming off an early playoff exit following an incredible 15-1 regular season, the old doubts began to creep back after the Bears make a big splash. Will Thompson modify his draft strategy to add players to the secondary capable of shutting down Marshall?
Mike Sherman tried this in reaction to Randy Moss in Minnesota and look at how well Ahmad Carroll is doing today!
Bottom line, Packer Nation, is just relax. One signing does not a full season make. If Marshall indeed did commit the act this past weekend (which the Bears say they were already aware of), he could be looking at a multiple game suspension. He’s not a first time offender and we all know Rogers Goodell’s lack of sympathy for repeat violations of the league’s personal conduct policy.
This is the time of year desperate teams shine. The draft is coming up and that’s Thompson’s time to do what he does best—reload the Packers for a run for glory not only in 2012, but many years in the future.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke