Bad loss in NFC title game, but Packers can still laugh at Bears

SHARE Bad loss in NFC title game, but Packers can still laugh at Bears

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers sits on the bench during the second half of the NFC Championship Game against the Falcons. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

I’m guessing your standard-issue Bears fan saw Atlanta’s dismantling of Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game as proof of intelligent design. The hated Packers falling 44-21? Does it get any better than that?

Well, yeah, it actually does, though it would involve the Bears somehow turning into a reputable franchise, and the jury seems to have spoken on that issue over and over again.

Maybe you got your jollies watching the carnage Sunday, but any time I watch the Packers, no matter how bad they might look, I think about the Bears’ failings.

I see Aaron Rodgers, and I think about the Bears’ congenital problems at quarterback.

I see Jordy Nelson playing with two broken ribs, and I think about Alshon Jeffery’s inability to stay on the field for extended periods of time.

I see the Packers’ roster decimated by injuries, and I think about the Bears’ season-long boo-hooing about their own injuries.

I saw one team in the NFC title game, and all I could think about was how far another team was from that stage.

And just for good measure, for more delicious pain, let’s bemoan how far the Bears are behind the team that manhandled the Packers on Sunday. The Bears have never had the Falcons’ firepower. Never. Quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Running backs Devonta Freeman and Oak Forest’s Tevin Coleman. Did I mention Matt Ryan?

Coveting another team’s roster is no way for anyone to watch sports. It’s like driving a car and wishing, at every stoplight, that you had the car next to you. Check that. It’s like always wishing you had the car in the next lane while jabbing a steak knife in your thigh. Or something like that.

Ryan was phenomenal during the regular season, leading the league with a 117.1 passer rating and 9.3 yards per pass attempt. He got a lot of help from offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, which might explain why Shanahan is the leading candidate to get the 49ers head coaching job. Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains seems worlds away from a top job right now.

The NFL’s final four only reinforced what everybody, possibly including the Bears, seems to know: If you have designs on getting anywhere, you might want to get yourself a great quarterback. Ryan, Rodgers, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. Duh, right? But if having a standout QB is so elementary, if it’s so obvious, why do you have to go back to Sid Luckman, who played for the Bears from 1939 to 1950, to find a quarterback of that caliber in Chicago? You might as well go back to prehistoric times.

Rodgers makes everybody around him better. He turns average players into good players. The Bears count their injuries, and the Packers move on from them, or in the case of Nelson, play with them. Running backs get hurt, and the Packers respond by moving a wide receiver into the backfield. And the kid averages 5.9 yards a carry in the regular season. The Packers lost five players during Sunday’s game. If that happened during a Bears game, coach John Fox would have asked for a moment of silence. Not that he would have been making excuses.

Good things do happen to the Bears, too, though not consistently. Go ahead and laugh at the Falcons for being playoff chokers historically, but with Ryan as a starter, they have gone 85-57 in the past nine years and made the playoffs five times. In the past 10 years, the Bears have been to the playoffs once. There’s no point in talking about their dead horse of a quarterback.

The bigger point is that the Bears do need to take a chance on a quarterback, whether through the draft with the third pick overall or through a trade, perhaps for Brady’s backup in New England, 25-year-old Jimmy Garoppolo. For those of you who insist there are no worthy quarterbacks in the 2017 draft, keep this in mind: Ryan was a high first-round pick, Rodgers was a late first-round pick, Roethlisberger was somewhere in between and Garoppolo, now the twinkle in many teams’ eyes, was a late second-rounder. And we all know about Brady’s sixth-round, rags-to-riches story.

No quarterback is guaranteed success in the NFL based on his college career. Conversely, no one is a bust based solely on what he did in college or the combine.

That’s a long way of telling Bears fans that, rather than rooting hard against the archrival Packers, they might start praying harder for Bears general manager Ryan Pace.

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