For the last installment of The Bears Still Suck we will take a step onto the field. First I want to take a quick review of the last two weeks.
In Part 1 we took a look at the Coaches for both the Bears and the Packers. We saw how the coaching staff for the Packers has been able to get the most out of their players, and do things week in and week out that most coaching staffs can’t do.
In Part 2 we looked at the front offices, and came to the conclusion the Packers are one of the top organizations in the league, due in no small part to their vision.
In the final installment in this series, we will take a look at the quarterback position for both of these franchises, and see why the Packers have the edge not only behind the scenes but also on the field.
I will try to my best to keep this segment short. With the disappointment Bear fans have had at the quarterback position, I could go on for a while. This position has been the center of the Bears problems for years. You can just take a look at all the quarterbacks we have had in my short lifetime. I was born in 1990 and that year the Bears starting quarterback was Jim Harbaugh, now the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines. When you take a look at our history of quarterbacks you couldn’t say that he was the worst that Chicago has had, but he also was not someone you could build a team around. He was a consistent starter for the Bears for 4 seasons, only missing a few games here and there. He eventually intersected with the “Brett Favre Era” for the Packers. During that time in Packer History, the Bears have had 23 guys under center.
I decided to take a look at that list. There were many names that I did not know were ever on the Bears roster. My favorite on that list – not because of anything memorable – is Craig Krenzel. Even though I was born in Chicago I have lived most of my life in Ohio, and during that time I have grown a hatred for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Whenever I watch a game on NBC and I hear a player say he played for “The Ohio State Buckeyes” I get a little angry inside. I have to say, for being a Buckeye, Craig Krenzel was not all that bad. However, he was always a better person than he was a quarterback. His time in Chicago he had a 46% completion percentage and 3:6 TD to Int ratio.
And let’s not forget the wonderful time of Rex Grossman; or as we in Chicago like to call him “Sexy Rexy”. There was a lot of hype around this kid after the Bears drafted him in the first round at number 22. His career didn’t start out hot after having multiple injuries. He finally got his shot at the end of the 2005 season. He came in during the 2nd half of the Atlanta Falcons game after Kyle Orton was having some struggles. He led us to a win in that game and eventually a playoff berth. Bear fans had a lot of joy going into the next season. I even bought into the hype and got myself a Grossman jersey, which I still have to this day. Packer and Bear fans all know how that season ended: with us losing the Super Bowl, in part because Grossman and his inconsistent play.
That leads us into today where now we have the wonderful “smoking” Jay Cutler. I remember the day we traded for him like it was yesterday. It was my senior year of high school and I was in one of my baseball games. I got the ESPN text alert on my phone as I was making my way to the batter’s box. We, for obvious reasons, were not allowed to have our phones with us at the games, but I was so excited I had to tell someone. My baseball coach was a huge Packer fan, and I decided to gloat and rub it in. He thought the idea of us getting Cutler was so funny that he didn’t even care that I had my phone. He said to me, “He is going to give my Packers many wins in the next few seasons,” and Packer fans have been saying that ever since he joined the Bears. There was not a more depressing feeling when I decided to invite all my new college friends – which included our very own Jordan Peck – over for a watch party and enjoy the new era of Bears vs. Packers football. This became a tradition for all of us, and it was not just watching the game. The new tradition became seeing how Jay Cutler could single-handedly gift the Packers two wins every season. That being said, we are ready for the Cutler era to end here in Chicago.
Now it is time to talk about the Packers quarterback situation and, just like your list of recent quarterbacks, this part of the article will be short. In my lifetime the Packers have had a total of nine quarterbacks under center. That number is obviously very misleading because the Packers have only had two quarterbacks unless they were out because of injuries. To top it off, one was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, while the other appears to be a future first ballot Hall of Famer. Not many teams can have a guy like Brett Favre announce he is going to retire, only to have a guy like Aaron Rodgers waiting in the wings. Favre even said he wanted to come back, and your front office confidently told him no. At the time it was a debate if they should bring him back, but we now know that they made the right decision. During Favre’s career he was able to lead the Packers to twelve playoff appearances with a 13-11 record. In those games he had a 60% completion percentage with 44 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. The interception numbers are a little high, but that includes two bad games where he had 6 in one game and 4 in another. In those playoff appearances he was able to get the Packers to back-to-back Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997. He didn’t do too badly in those games either, putting up a total of 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. Favre – like Cutler – has been called a “gunslinger.” The difference between the two players is very noticeable, though. Favre would not always have the best outcome in games, but he would give it his all every play of every game. The same could not be said for Jay Cutler. Favre had they ability to make a mistake and come right back and make a big play.
Now let’s talk about the guy you have now. Stephen A. Smith knows him as “the bad man Aaron Rodgers,” and that is just what he is. Rodgers has been doubted his whole career. We all know the stories of how no colleges wanted him until Cal decided to take a chance on him. He then got picked after Alex Smith in the draft. Then people even started to question if he was the guy to take Favre’s place. He plays with a huge chip on his shoulder and that is one of things that makes him such a good quarterback. It is also the reason I hate watching him so much! Taking a look at his numbers, it is easy to see why this front office was so confident in what they had.
In his first full season as a starter he put up 4,038 yards 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. To put that in perspective Jay Cutler has only thrown for 4,000 yards once in his career, and Aaron Rodgers did that his first full season as a starter. Aaron has continued to put up those numbers and then some. After his first season, he has had only one year throwing double digit interceptions. He also has only had two other seasons of less than 30 touchdowns, but that was only because he had injuries. Coming into week 10 of this season, the talk has been that Rodgers has been off his game as of late. That discussion is one of the reasons I wanted to look in depth at both of these franchises. Last year Aaron threw for 38 touchdowns with only 8 interceptions. His yards were a little down, but he still was close to having yet another 4,000 yard season. This season he is on pace for another year like last season. I will say right now if this is Rodgers “off his game” then the Packers have nothing to be worried about. I can think of 30 other teams that would take Rodgers with those stats, and that one team that wouldn’t would be the Patriots. And even with Tom Brady in hand, they might entertain the idea.
I hope these last few articles have been a breath of fresh air for Packer fans. I know things have not gone the way as expected so far this season, but you guys are set up for the future. It is safe to say that the Packers are a step ahead of the competition when it comes to front office, coaching, and the quarterback position. When all else fails Packer fans can remember one thing….The Bears Still Suck!