Before the Bears turned the tide against Brett Favre near the end of his run with the Packers as Lovie Smith’s defense found regular success in the rivalry, the organization talked about one day finding a quarterback to compete in the NFC North.
Before the Bears identified their quarterback, the Packers transitioned to Aaron Rodgers, who has had a better winning percentage in the series than Favre (22-10 with Packers). Rodgers had been the starter for a year when the Bears swung the trade with two first-round draft picks for Jay Cutler in 2009.
Now, with the offense rebuilt around him, Cutler gets to show what he can do Sunday in a winner-take-all meeting with the Packers at Soldier Field. As well as Rodgers has played against the Bears (9-3 in 12 starts), Cutler has struggled against the Packers for the Bears (1-7).
“Same old Jay,” is what former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson used to say with the belief there would be interceptions to make. Woodson is now with the Raiders, but if he was still in Green Bay he might not make the same evaluation.
The offense has taken off in coach Marc Trestman’s first season and now Cutler has a chance to guide the Bears to an NFC North title and home wild-card playoff game next weekend. Cutler missed the Week 9 meeting at Lambeau Field with a groin muscle injury. In his fifth season with the Bears, he’s outfitted with wide receivers, a tight end, a running back and a revamped offensive line. Cutler’s supporters will say he was short-handed in the past against the Packers. His detractors will say elite quarterbacks raise the level of play of those around them.
The line played well in the previous meeting against the Packers. The Bears’ 18-play drive at the end of the game took 8 minutes, 58 seconds off the clock, overcame 15 yards in penalties and ended with a Robbie Gould field goal. Trestman made a decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 32-yard line.
That wasn’t the only big drive. The Bears also went 93 yards in 12 plays in the final 4:16 of the second quarter to end the first half on a Gould field goal.