Marshall said the leadership of Bears coach Lovie Smith has been a breath of fresh air for him, allowing him to perform without pressure.
“I’ve been in situations in the past where we were treated like kids, like a high school football team, and guys would rebel,” Marshall told Albert Breer of NFL.com. “Guys police themselves here. So when it comes to curfew, things like that, you don’t see guys sneaking out their rooms during camp. Everyone understands their position, everyone understands that, ‘Hey, he’s treating us like men and we need to be professionals.’
“I appreciate that part of it — it makes you wanna work that much harder.”
Cutler and Peppers were both productive in previous stops, but seem more at ease in Chicago. For Peppers in particular, being in a larger market affords him some anonymity he never enjoyed in his home state, where he was the Panthers’ name player after a standout career at North Carolina.
But while Peppers likes to blend in, Marshall thinks being in a market the size of Chicago gives him a platform to speak out about borderline personality disorder.
But on the field, the ability to play for a coach he trusts could bring something out of him that has been absent before.
“Perception and reality isn’t always exactly what you think it is,” Smith said. “We’ve done our research on all the guys we’ve brought in. And nobody’s past is ever perfect. But I do believe in giving a guy a second chance. I don’t know many perfect people that haven’t made some mistakes, or had it where some things just haven’t worked out for them. Divorce, sometimes, is a good thing. I hate to say it, but it is.
“For us, we give them a fresh start here, we have an excellent locker room, we have an excellent group of teammates. So if you want a second chance, you want to win football games and you want to do it the right way, this is a perfect place for you.”
Playing Father Flanagan only works as long as the team’s winning, so if Smith can keep Marshall and the Bears on track, everything should be fine. If not, the problems are practically inevitable, and you can bet the next coach will be some Greg Schiano-type who demands discipline.