No Aaron Rodgers, no problem? Not so fast, Bears-Packers will be a battle even without Aaron Rodgers

This confidence is an attitude with which I am neither familiar nor comfortable. That’s a nice way of saying, “Are you people insane?”

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Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has been the co-owner of the Bears along with the McCaskeys for all these years, has taken his talents to the New York area to play for the Jets.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Am I hearing this right? The big, bad Packers are dead? The villainous Aaron Rodgers has departed Green Bay, and now it’s the Bears’ opportunity to take over the NFC North?

Wow. From downtrodden to wealthy in 1.2 seconds. That has to be some kind of world record.

This confidence, this optimism, this belief that the Packers as we know them are going away . . . this is an attitude with which I am neither familiar nor comfortable. That’s a nice way of saying, “Are you people insane?”

I’m not in the habit of putting a hand in the lion’s cage. It’s why I’m using fingers, not stumps, to type this column. Why would anyone think it smart to reach out and attempt to noogie the Packers?

Rodgers once famously said that he owned the Bears, and he was right. It’s inarguable, a self-evident truth found in his 24-5 record against his friends to the south. Before him, there was Brett Favre, who had similar success against the Bears. Added up, it was more than 30 years of Packers dominance. That’s not one team having another’s number. It’s one team having another’s soul.

Based on that, you’d think it would take time for the seeds of confidence to start growing in Chicago. But, no. The word on the street is that the Packers are vulnerable. The bully is gone, and the schoolyard playing field is level.

Look, you Bears fans are fine people, many of you from good Midwestern stock. You don’t brag. You don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. Why, then, do you assume that the Packers are going to melt just because they traded Rodgers to the Jets? You should assume that the next in line to the Packers’ quarterback throne will automatically turn into a superstar. That’s not a defeatist attitude. It’s psychological protection. It’s a helmet with extra padding.

This feels like it’s perfectly set up to be a cruel joke on the Bears and their fans. Charlie Brown is positive that this is it, that he’s finally going to kick that football. A few moments later, he’s looking at spinal fusion surgery.

It’s true that the Bears appear to be on their way up. They were 3-14 last season. They traded the fruit of that horrible record, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, to Carolina for a haul that included wide receiver DJ Moore. It was a fine move because the Bears hardly had a passing game last season and because passing is kind of important in the NFL. The franchise eventually has to find out if quarterback Justin Fields can accurately throw the ball. There is reason for optimism, and that’s a very good thing for a fan base dying for a reason to believe.

However, the Bears’ arrow tilting upward doesn’t automatically mean that the Packers’ arrow is stuck in a stone like King Arthur’s sword. There are many more doubts about the Packers’ quarterback situation than there are with the Bears’. Jordan Love has stood on the sidelines for three years waiting his turn. He’s a mystery. Fields is a thriller. Yet we don’t know how either story is going to end up.

Green Bay has some very good players on defense and a good offensive line (when it can stay healthy), a statement that can’t be made about the Bears at this point.

This is where the Chicago bravado seems out of place. No one associated with the Bears should ever think the coast is clear when it comes to the Packers. It just seems . . . reckless. After the beating they’ve taken over the last three decades, the Bears shouldn’t be poking this particular bear.

What if it’s not a Rodgers or a Favre problem? What if it’s something deeper, an ongoing, never-ending Packers problem? I know: You don’t want to think about that. You’d prefer to think about anything but that — the temperature in hell, for example. And that’s fine. Nothing wrong with avoidance as a coping mechanism. But why go the other way, celebrating that the evil witch is dead? Why spike the football before the season has even started?

I’d preach caution. I wouldn’t play with fire. I’d shut up and wear flame-retardant clothing.

This is a new era, you say. These are not the intimidating Packers, you say. Rodgers is long gone and so is all that losing, you say.

If you say so.

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