Bears, Cutler can learn a lot from Rodgers
Packers QB's performance before and during Super Bowl eye-opening
Other than Pittsburgh, no other football city endured a longer Monday than Chicago.
Some Bears fans probably would rather go through last week's blizzard again than get buried by all the love heaped upon the Packers and Aaron Rodgers after their Super BowlSteelers. Knowing two of the Packers' six straight victories on the way to the title came against their NFC North rivals is enough for some Grabowski households to rid their refrigerators of cheddar.
Take solace, Chicagoans, in the only thing you can. It could be worse.
They could have built a roof over Lambeau Field.
Imagine Rodgers playing every home game under ideal conditions. On second thought, don't. I can't be responsible for any Bears fan's insomnia.
As Rodgers showed against the Falcons in the Georgia Dome in the playoffs with a nearly flawless showing, he does more damage on indoor carpet than a new puppy. He was at it again on the artificial surface of Cowboys Stadium, picking his spots, beating the blitz, heating up at room temperature against the NFL's No. 1 defense.
But Rodgers did more than simply escape tired comparisons to Brett Favre and deepen his bond with kindred quarterback spirit Steve Young — who helped Favre's successor navigate life following a legend. Rodgers established himself as an elite quarterback who deserves mention after the names Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. There's Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Drew Brees and … Philip Rivers?
Some cities get all the quarterbacks.
Consider Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and three TDs without an interception in the Super Bowl — and had at least four passes dropped.
The scariest part?
"The challenge now goes to repeating, scrutinizing this season, finding ways to get better," Rodgers said Monday at a news conference. "As a kid, I always wanted to obviously win a Super Bowl. Now that I've got one, it's like, 'Now what?' Let's go get another one."
I don't know of an NFC North team good enough yet to get in the Packers' way once they add their 15 injured players into the mix. I can think of only one or two teams possibly capable in the entire NFC. The Patriots in the AFC with a bunch of draft picks come the closest, so, assuming there's football in 2011, let's look forward to Indianapolis hosting a Super Bowl XLVI showdown between Rodgers and Brady.
Until then, many teams now chasing the Packers can learn from Rodgers — starting with the Bears.
If I am in the Bears' front office, I hire somebody to make a videotape documenting the way Rodgers conducted himself during Super Bowl week. Examine how Rodgers handled interviews, dealt with people, suffered fools. Then find out where Jay Cutler is and FedEx
Have an image consultant go over every last detail of Rodgers' Super Bowl week with Cutler. Make Rodgers the standard by which Cutler should measure himself in every way — because that is his new reality.
That's not picking on Cutler. But something's missing, and only he can find it during the most critical offseason of his career. As one NFC coach reminded me last week, talentwise, there is nothing Rodgers can do that Cutler can't. He can be that good. Sure, Rodgers benefits from a deeper receiving corps and a better offensive line. But Rodgers ascended quickly to this level because of intangibles such as maturity, poise and patience.
If you don't think those off-the-field traits are related to on-the-field predictors for an NFL quarterback, you're not paying attention to what makes the top 10 at the position worthy of that status.
An obvious quality Rodgers has that Cutler lacks is something people rarely mention: humility. It humbled Rodgers to drop to 24th overall in the 2005 NFL draft. Holding a clipboard his first three seasons didn't exactly give him reason to be cocky. He likely cursed his plight back then, but waiting made Rodgers better in terms of attitude and ability when his time finally came after the Favre trade in 2008.
Rodgers' gradual progress gives every NFL team something to consider as the possibility of a rookie salary cap looms in the next collective bargaining agreement. How many more first-round quarterbacks might benefit from a backup role as Rodgers did before being thrust into the forefront? For every Mark Sanchez there is a Brady Quinn.
The current system that guarantees small fortunes to quarterbacks selected high such as Sam Bradford or Matthew Stafford prematurely forces them onto the field where they often develop bad habits that threaten their confidence. Outrageous financial commitments make the development clock tick louder.
Guys like Bradford and Stafford show glimpses of greatness, but how much more polish and consistency might they show if they spent their first two years learning from a veteran?
As the Steelers found out the hard way, the education of Rodgers is now complete.
"I thought Aaron Rodgers played like Aaron Rodgers," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
But a star wasn't born in the Super Bowl. Rodgers was carefully molded and shaped until it was clear he was ready to shine.
XLV win over the him a copy to study a professional franchise quarterback acting like one. Every day, Rodgers made the Packers organization a little prouder.