LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears cornerback Zack Bowman drew a parallel to hoops when explaining curiosity about whether Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers would start Sunday when the teams meet in the regular-season finale at Soldier field.
“It’s almost like wanting to know if Michael Jordan was gonna go back in the day because, [like Jordan, Rodgers] is a difference-maker,” Bowman said.
Now that it’s a slam dunk Rogers will play, the question is whether the quarterback’s presence under center changes the approach for the Bears, who need a win in order to capture the NFC North crown and a postseason berth. Chicago’s struggling defense certainly recognizes the challenge it faces against one of the game’s top quarterbacks in Rodgers, but in terms of preparation, nothing changes.
“It didn’t surprise us. If he could play he would, and we’ve prepared for that,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “That’s no disrespect to the job [backup quarterback] Matt Flynn has done. But if Aaron could play, we expected him to play. We’re prepared for that and we know that Mike [McCarthy] was going to get his team ready to play anyway with whoever was available. He’s proven he can do that year in and year out. With Aaron back, they have a feeling they’ll be at their best and we’re ready for that, excited about it.”
It wasn’t as if the Bears would prepare any less vigorously to face Rodgers than they would any other quarterback, even though several defenders in the club’s locker room on Thursday acknowledged the starter’s capabilities are more vast than those of the backup.
“It doesn’t change anything,” safety Craig Steltz said. “Matt had won games in this league and so has Aaron. You’re going to prepare hard, no matter who the quarterback is.”
Perhaps Chicago might toil even harder in readying themselves for Rodgers, given his track record against the Bears.
Rodgers has won eight of the 10 regular-season games he’s finished against Chicago, posting a passer rating of 107.7 throughout his career against the Bears, and completing 68.8 percent of his throws for 2,513 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions.
When the teams met on Nov. 4 with the Bears coming out of their bye, Rodgers completed 1-of-2 passes in Green Bay’s opening drive before suffering the collarbone injury, which has sidelined him for the past seven games. Prior to that 27-20 Chicago victory, the Bears hadn’t defeated Rodgers and the Packers since Sept. 27, 2010.
When the Bears won that game, they took advantage of an almost fluke James Jones fumble, which gave them possession on the Green Bay 46 with 2:18 left to play to get into position for Robbie Gould's winning field goal. Green Bay committed a franchise-record 18 penalties for 152 yards in that outing, including a call during Chicago’s final drive that wiped out what should have been an interception and gave the Bears possession at the Packers' 9 for Gould’s kick.
Other than that outing, Rodgers and the Packers have owned the rivalry. In the past four games he’s actually completed against the Bears, Rodgers is undefeated, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 1,091 yards, 12 TDs, two interceptions and a passer rating of 117.2.
The Bears expect Rodgers to pick up where he left off Sunday, and don’t anticipate any rust from the quarterback, who has practiced, but hasn’t played in seven weeks.
“I don’t know if he’s rusty or not. I haven’t seen him in about seven or eight weeks,” Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said. “We’ll see come Sunday, but I don’t anticipate him being rusty at all. It doesn’t matter if he’s the quarterback or not. We’ve got to go out there and execute. Everybody knows what’s at stake. Our playoffs start now.”