(CBS) As we count down to Bourbonnais, a panel of 15 670 The Score hosts, reporters and producers ranked their top 10 most important Bears players for the 2012 season. We compiled the rankings into one master list and will release the 10 Most Important Bears over the next 10 weekdays.
No. 5 Brandon Marshall
New general manager Phil Emery won over Bears nation when he traded for Brandon Marshall just minutes after the NFL calendar flipped over. The timing of the move was just as notable as the impact of the move. By acquiring an elite wide receiver as soon as possible, Emery sent a message that this was a new era for Bears football.
But now that the Bears finally have an elite target for quarterback Jay Cutler, the tendency is for fans to put all the pressure of the 2012 season on the shoulders of Brandon Marshall. Yes, the Bears do need consistent play from their new toy, but don't forget that they were well on their way to the playoffs last season before Cutler and Matt Forte went down with injuries.
That's not to say Marshall is not important. He certainly is. In fact, he could be the missing piece that makes the entire offense click. For years, the Bears struggled to find consistent offense, allowing the defense to carry the team to the 2007 Super Bowl. The organization made an important step by acquiring Cutler in 2009, but they essentially wasted three seasons by putting him in the wrong scheme and failing to give him adequate targets to throw the ball to.
Not only is Marshall an adequate target, but he is also one of Cutler's favorite targets as the two enjoyed success together in Denver. Assuming the wide receiver stays on the field, the Bears offense is going to have a receiving weapon it hasn't had in a long time. And considering Cutler might already be the best quarterback the Bears have ever had, it's probably fair to say the organization has never had a passing combination like this before.
The 10 Most Important Bears were decided by 15 Score contributors who ranked their most important players from 1-10. The rankings were then compiled into a master list by assigning point values to the votes (a No. 1 vote is worth 10 points and a No. 10 vote is worth 1 point).
The panel: Mike Mulligan, Zach Zaidman, Laurence Holmes, Matt Spiegel, Adam Hoge, Jason Goff, Matt Abbatacola, Ben Finfer, Jay Zawaski, Nick Shepkowski, David Schuster, Herb Lawrence, Craig Miller, Dennis Gambino and Brendan McCaffrey.
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