The Chicago Bears relied on Brandon Marshall so much last season that he was targeted on roughly 40 percent of his quarterback's passes. No NFL wide receiver came within seven percentage points of Marshall's figure.
Through seven games this season, Marshall is not even leading his team in receiving yards. Second-year breakout star Alshon Jeffery actually is tied with Eric Decker of the Denver Broncos for the most receiving yards in the league over the past five weeks. Jeffery has 561 receiving yards on the season compared with 540 for Marshall.
Jeffery's emergence as one of the NFL's premier downfield threats led Gregg Rosenthal to ask NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell if Jeffery might be every bit as good as Marshall.
Cosell told the "Around The League Podcast" that "ability-wise" it's not crazy to believe Jeffery is on Marshall's level, but he has to prove it over time.
"I happen to know some people down at South Carolina, and I remember talking to their offensive staff," Cosell added. "They told me that if he could keep his weight down, he would have a chance to be a special receiver. ... I think Jeffery is a very talented kid."
Jeffery has been a complete receiver this season, moving the chains and excelling as a vertical threat. One unexpected contribution is his playmaking ability on end-arounds, as shown in the highlight package to the right. Thanks in part to those 88 yards on six rushing attempts, Jeffery leads all NFL receivers in yards from scrimmage.
It sounded like hyperbole when Marshall declared earlier this month that Jeffery has the potential to become the greatest receiver in Bears history. Now it doesn't seem so far-fetched.