It might be difficult for BearsNation to believe that the football gods have it in for their local gridders. For so many years the Bears and their followers have wept and gnashed their bicuspids, waiting for the Green Bay Packers to lose Brett Favre, and then when they did, Aaron Rodgers arose. Then the waiting began for Rodgers to begin faltering, when the time would come that the Bears could climb past the team that denied them the Super Bowl in 2010 and rained (literally and figuratively) on so many of their parades.
And finally, as 2016 began unfolding, it looked to be happening: Rodgers started being “bad” (if only by Rodgers standards), throwing more interceptions (7) through nine games as he typically has thrown in whole seasons and posting passer ratings down in the Jay Cutler range. The Packers were down to 4-6, and even the Bears in their diminished state, led the Packers 10-6 early in the third quarter of their game in Green Bay.
So there it was, the chance the Bears have been waiting years for…
Except that now it turns out…Rodgers wasn’t really “bad.”
“He never looked like he was off to me,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, clearly puzzled at how anyone could see one of the NFL’s measure of excellence could have been judged to have been faltering.
“He’s a complete quarterback. He’s got a big arm. He’s very accurate. He anticipates things well. He’s got a quick release. And on top of all the passing talent, he has the scrambling and the improvising and the quarterback running just makes it really a complete package.”
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
So has Fangio been having sleepless nights during this Packer Week?
“I’ve been up all night a lot of weeks lately,” Fangio said, his frustrations clearly not limited to just Packer prep.
Indeed, waiting for Rodgers to fade or even falter has been futile in the past and just as much so now. For all of the reports of any rift between Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers have run off three straight victories, the last a 38-10 mauling of the runaway NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks.
Rodgers has not thrown an interception in four straight games and has had no passer rating below 108.9. The Bears have had just two passer performances that high — both by Brian Hoyer — in 13 games this season.
Rookie safety Deon Bush played 5 snaps on special teams, none on defense, the first time the Bears faced Rodgers this year. Now Bush has started four games and aware of how Rodgers can abuse safeties and every other position on defense.
“He’s been doing it at a high level for a long time,” Bush said, shaking his head. “He’s unpredictable, he makes great throws. Very unpredictable and it’s hard to read that.
“We’ve just to be ready to stick with the receivers for a long time. He extends plays with his feet… For me, it’s another week, another chance to play against someone you’ve watched for a long time.”