What’s it like to coach Bears WR Brandon Marshall? You may be surprised…

Bears WR Brandon Marshall has impressed on and off the field (Associated Press)

While I was in Chicago yesterday for some NFL Network-type things, I stopped by Halas Hall to check in on the Bears. You saw this yesterday, and there will be more to read on NFL.com next week. One thing I came away with, though, is a different understanding of WR Brandon Marshall.

I had a long talk with Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake, focusing on what it’s like to deal with Marshall. Like all of us, Drake had heard things about the lightning-rod receiver before he arrived. Since then? It hasn’t been what he expected.

Unbelievable. Just a joy,” Drake told me about what it’s like to coach Marshall every day. “He challenges me, I challenge him, in a very positive way because he’s so smart. He makes me stay on top of things on my game as far as learning. It’s a two-way street. He has really given me some things, as far as a coach, to keep my interest at an extremely high level. What I mean by that is, he’s so smart and he understands the game so well, he’s been through so many things, when he comes for help, I gotta be able to give them those answers. So, it keeps me studying, it keeps me on top of things, it keeps me sharp, and that’s what you want as a coach.

Marshall’s reputation is that he’s not always a joy to coach. That’s why he sort of bounced his way out of Denver and Miami. But Marshall has also made a life turn, embracing his battle with a mental disorder and apparently turning the corner. Maybe that’s what changed things.

Anyway, Drake is a coaching veteran on the college and pro level. He’s been doing it for 33 years, and Marshall makes him feel like he’s working in his first or second year.

He’s just really given me a renewed enthusiasm,” Drake said. “Not saying I didn’t have that, but it’s even two-fold — the kind of player he is and the kind of person he’s been in those meetings rooms each and every day. He’s been a joy. I couldn’t be more pleased and happy to have a guy in the room like him. All those things that I heard and all those things … I mean, I haven’t seen any of it — And not looking for it. As a coach, you and a player sometimes have a unique relationship.”

Drake is a former player, and he wants to teach like he wanted to be taught when he was on the field. That’s his goal. That, it seems, has worked with Marshall.

I think everything’s gone well,” Drake said. “These are probably some things you gotta ask him because he’s gonna be truthful. And he’s going to tell you like it is. But I couldn’t be more ecstatic.”

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