After years of torment, Bears finally seeing 'bad' Aaron Rodgers? Not quite

After years of torment, Bears finally seeing 'bad' Aaron Rodgers? Not quite

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.”

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

Raiders prepping to set the market for Tom Brady in free agency

If the Bears have any interest in signing soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Tom Brady this offseason, they may have to be willing to commit beyond just the 2020 season for him.

According to longtime NFL writer Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., the Las Vegas Raiders are prepping to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million deal.

It's a steep price to pay regardless of Brady's resume largely because of his age; he'll be 43 at the start of next season. It's highly unlikely Ryan Pace would be interested in a multi-year deal for a player as close to the end as Brady, but the market will ultimately dictate what needs to be offered by teams who are serious about acquiring TB12.

If Brady wants to play beyond 2020 and is looking for a commitment from a team that extends into at least the 2021 season, his list of potential suitors is likely to shrink. But all it takes is one club willing to meet his asking price, and with Raiders coach Jon Gruden's affinity for established veteran quarterbacks, it seems like a logical match for both sides.

The Bears are expected to be aggressive in the quarterback market this offseason, whether it's via trade for someone like Bengals veteran Andy Dalton or in free agency with players like Marcus Mariota (Titans) and Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) presenting as attractive options.

Former second overall pick Mitch Trubisky has largely been a disappointment over his first three years in Chicago and is facing a make-or-break season in 2020. There's a chance he won't even begin training camp as the starter, depending on who the Bears court in free agency and the promises they make in order to sign him.

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

NFL free agency could be ‘potential chaos’ for available quarterbacks

A plethora of NFL quarterbacks are set to hit the open market in the next few weeks in Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota and Case Keenum.

With at least nine in-demand signal-callers, the NFL could see a quarterback shakeup unparalleled in recent NFL history. According to NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, there may be “more butts than seats.”

“In this looming game of quarterback musical chairs, I still don’t think we know whether when the music stops, there’s gonna be more butts than seats, or more seats than butts,” Florio said on NBC Sports’ PFT Live. “And there’s a chance that there’s gonna be a team that is left — because they wanted too long to have something lined up — they’re gonna be left looking around saying ‘Who the hell’s our quarterback for 2020?’”

Based on that list of quarterbacks, teams that could have a QB vacancy to fill this winter include the Patriots, Cowboys, Saints, Buccaneers, Chargers and Titans. There are nine quarterbacks on that list, though Mariota and Keenum may be viewed more as backups by prospective suitors. Therefore, you could have six teams in need of a quarterback and seven on the open market.

The former figure could increase if teams like the Bears or Raiders look to upgrade the quarterback position in free agency. In that case, perhaps there are more “chairs” than “butts” this offseason, meaning some teams may find themselves without a starting quarterback entering the NFL draft.

In that scenario, a team may be inclined to trade for a QB, such as Bengals’ Andy Dalton. How this chaotic situation plays out will determined in the coming weeks, but what’s already certain is this offseason’s free agency could be a frenzy.

“We’ve never had anything even close to this, by way of potential chaos for quarterbacks in free agency and really through the draft,” Florio said. “Who knows how it’s all gonna play out? There’s gonna be a major, major shakeup, potentially. It’s gonna be somewhere between nothing changes and complete and total chaos, but I think it’s gonna be closer to complete and total chaos.”