Green Bay is troubled, Chicago is happy and absolutely nothing makes sense anymore. Left is right. Hot is cold. If there’s a bloodthirsty hen running loose in the fox house, I would not be surprised.
The Packers, the picture of quarterback stability for decades, are going through severe quarterback turmoil, and the Bears, the franchise that can’t spell QB if you spot it two letters, are at peace with the position.
Where are we? How did we get here? And what did you put in this brownie?
Aaron Rodgers’ unhappiness with the Packers burst into the open last week, and a trade of one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history is very much a possibility. According to one report, Rodgers wants out unless the team fires general manager Brian Gutekunst.
On the same day that news of Rodgers’ discontent broke, the Bears traded up in the draft to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with the 11th overall pick. Chicago greeted the development with a joy last seen on the day Prohibition ended. General manager Ryan Pace, whose record of choosing quarterbacks has been abysmal, was lauded by local media as a swashbuckling genius. You try being that without pulling a muscle.
This is how strange and discombobulated things are: According to The Athletic, Rodgers mockingly referred to Gutekunst in group chats with teammates as “Jerry Krause,’’ equating him to the late Bulls general manager, whom Michael Jordan blamed for breaking up the team’s dynasty. Hey, Aaron, come up with your own symbols for dysfunction!
This is why my boat is adrift. Chicago has lived so long in the shadow of Green Bay’s quarterbacks that to see even a sliver of a chance of places being traded, of the shoe being put on the other foot, is mind-boggling. The Packers have had Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Rodgers, each of whom played 16 seasons with the franchise. The Bears? The great Sid Luckman played 12 seasons in Chicago, the most for a quarterback in team history, followed by the so-so Jay Cutler with eight. That’s all you really need to know.
But now comes Mr. Fields, a possible antidote to all the pain and suffering that Bears fans carry in their DNA.
And there, perhaps, goes Mr. Rodgers.
Neither of these possibilities computes with me. I understand why Bears fans have grafted themselves to the idea of Fields’ being great. They’re desperate for a quarterback, and the kid showed tons of promise at Ohio State. The franchise’s history would suggest that the buyer beware, that you don’t ever want to fall in love with the next quarterback, but, hey, it’s your heart, folks. What’s one more session with a carving knife?
The Rodgers situation makes no sense to the average scarred Bears fan, which is every Bears fan. When Green Bay decided to move on from Favre in 2008, it didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense, either. The Packers were coming off a loss in the NFC Championship Game. But the organization knew how good Rodgers, his replacement, was. This time, there is no logical replacement. By most accounts, Jordan Love, heading into his second year in the league, is not ready to lead the offense.
Few people understood Green Bay’s decision to draft Love in the first round in 2020. Rodgers certainly didn’t. That the Packers failed to inform their future Hall of Famer they were going to use a first-round pick on a QB might have been the beginning of the end of the marriage.
As I said, the whole thing makes zero sense to those of us who have looked longingly north, to the land of quarterback plenty, and wondered what maleficent force out there had it in for Chicago. The Packers have perhaps the most talented quarterback in league history, and they can’t make it work? Really? Rodgers responded to the drafting of Love with one of his best seasons. His desire to have his contract redone in the offseason apparently fell on deaf ears.
He is not an innocent in all of this, of course. He can be prickly, and it’s why Packers fans aren’t rushing en masse to his defense. They like the victories he has brought them, but they liked Favre’s one-of-the-guys earthiness better. Will they side with management’s intransigence or Rodgers’ petulance? I have no idea.
What I do know is that Bears fans would embrace Vlad the Impaler if he were an accurate passer. Someone as intriguing as Fields comes along, and what happens? The city comes loose from its moorings.
Green Bay is Titletown. Now, somehow, Chicago is Tickled Town. Somebody help me. I don’t know how to navigate this landscape.