Bears fans finally got to see their offseason dreams come to life on Monday night, as Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall showed why they are one of the best quarterback-wide receiver combos in the NFL this season.
The Bears offense—and Cutler in particular—got off to a slow start through the first three games, but they let it all hang loose against the Cowboys defense, who had given up the fewest yards in the league prior to the 34-18 beating.
Cutler looked as good as he's ever been in a Bears uniform, completing 18-of-24 passes for 275 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The gunslinger's 140.1 QB rating was the highest he's had since a four-touchdown performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in November of 2010.
Marshall had a good game of his own, catching seven passes for 138 yards and a score. Despite going against what was the league's second best pass defense, Marshall put together his best performance since arriving in the Windy City.
Things will only get better for this dynamic duo, who are without question the most talented players at their position in Bears history.
Here are three reasons the Cutler-Marshall connect will bring glory to Chi-Town this season.
Whether it's been horrific play from his offensive line, a lack of a go-to wide receiver or a new voice in his headset practically every season, Jay Cutler hasn't had many reasons to feel comfortable since joining the Bears in 2008.
That was until this March when GM Phil Emery acquired Marshall from the Miami Dolphins—a move that made even Cutler smile.
It was obvious that the Bears would be an entirely different team given the pair's prior success. Cutler and Marshall combined for 205 completions, 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns in their final two seasons together in Denver.
Now their familiarity is beginning to pay dividends for a Bears offense that has never seen a better one-two punch.
It is crucial for a quarterback and his premier receiver to be on the same page at all times. Cutler and Marshall have a great deal of comfort with each other, which is extremely important when pressure is bearing down on the signal caller.
Playing in their fourth season together, expect the combo to reach new heights in 2012.
With Cutler sporting one of the biggest arms in football and Marshall on the outside, the Bears offense can expect numerous big plays from their passing game this season.
When's the last time anyone said that? No need looking through your football almanac, because the answer is never.
Standing at 6'4", 230 pounds, Marshall has been one of the league's best deep threats the last six seasons. Even with Matt Moore and Chad Henne as his quarterbacks last year, Marshall still hauled in 20 catches of 20-plus yards—eighth best in the NFL.
This season, Marshall already has six, which is tied for fifth in the league. Expect many more to come, as Cutler knows how to put the ball where only Marshall can catch it.
Marshall's size is also a deadly weapon in the red zone, making him a nightmare for opposing cornerbacks.
With a potent aerial attack added to the consistent play of Matt Forte and a turnover-hungry defense, the Bears are now a legitimate contender in the NFC.
Aside from making big plays of their own, the threat of Cutler and Marshall will open the floodgates for other weapons to succeed this season.
Marshall's big-play potential will not allow defenses to stack the box, giving more running room for Forte, who has proven to be a top-five running back in the NFL.
Despite an injured ankle, Forte has averaged a modest 4.5 yards per carry this season. Expect that number to increase as his ankle improves week-to-week, allowing him to benefit from the seven-man fronts he will see in 2012.
In addition, wide receivers Devin Hester and Alshon Jeffery will take a liking to Marshall's presence downfield. With the defense's attention glued to the Bears' big target, Hester and Jeffery will have a great deal of space to work with over the middle and in the slot.
Hester has already seen the benefits, catching a touchdown pass against the Cowboys—his first since Week 6 of last season.
Jeffery has also had a good start to the season, catching 12 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
Marshall isn't a Chicago sports savior like Derrick Rose and Michael Jordan, but his impact for the Bears is game-changing.