Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall has what I'll call an interesting theory about why he needed hip surgery this offseason. I brought his quote to your attention Thursday morning, but it merits further discussion here.
Asked by ESPNChicago.com's Sarah Spain about the addition of tight end Martellus Bennett, Marshall said: "I am [looking forward to having more weapons]. It was tough sledding last year. I think that's why I had to have the surgery. I had 2-3 guys on me every single play, but bringing in big boy Martellus, I don't think the league really knows how good he is. I didn't know, and that was one of my great friends in the league. So I'm excited to see him, he's going to be awesome this year for us."
The chart shows how Bears quarterbacks directed the majority of their passes last season. Marshall was targeted more than any NFL receiver other than the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson, and the difference between his 194 targets and the next-highest Bears receivers (Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffery, who had 48 apiece) was the second-highest total in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
It's medically impossible to know if the extra work truly necessitated Marshall's hip surgery. What we can note is that the Bears were really inefficient with their use of tight end Kellen Davis. As the chart shows, he ran more routes than Jeffery, Earl Bennett or tailback Matt Forte but was targeted fewer times. Davis' 13.6 percent rate of targets per route was lower than any starting tight end in the NFL last season.
I'm not sure if Martellus Bennett can limit wear and tear on Marshall's hip, but there is without question room for him to elevate the presence of tight ends in the Bears' passing offense.