It’s been a week since Justin Fields became the next quarterback of the Chicago Bears.
It’s been that same week since Aaron Rodgers decided he would no longer go gentle into that Green Bay night. After weeks of apparently expecting to be traded and not, while also receiving contract extension offers without enough guaranteed cash, Rodgers decided to have his people call Adam Schefter’s people and fly the Enola Gay over the draft proceedings in Cleveland.
Immediately, DraftKings Sportsbook pulled the NFC North odds for next season off the board. As rumors of Rodgers’ probable destinations surfaced – Denver and Vegas being the leaders in the clubhouse – DK also pulled the AFC West off the board. (Both divisions have since been reinstalled, with the Packers -115 to win the division, which might be where the odds settle without Rodgers in the mix.)
Will Rodgers be on the Packers this season? He’s told the team he will not. He’s told his teammates he will not. I’m pretty sure he told half the bartenders at Churchill Downs he will not. (“Hey man, you know this is one good Mint Julep. You know anything about the golf clubs in Denver?”) All signs are pointing to the end of the Rodgers era in Green Bay and the first set in the main room for Jordan Love, who’ll now begin his quest to provide the Packers with three consecutive Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
No matter the outcome of the Rodgers saga, the Bears must ignore it. All of it. Yes, Rodgers out of the NFC North would mean the division is up for grabs in 2021 and the Bears would be well-positioned to win it. But the team can’t let the circumstances of another club, even their oldest rival, impact the development of their quarterback. If the plan coming out of camp is for Andy Dalton to start the season at quarterback and for Fields to learn at the hip of Matt Nagy for a period of time, stick to that plan. If Dalton starts 0-2, so be it.
History definitively tells us two things. (1) Andy Dalton isn’t winning the Super Bowl. (2) Rookie quarterbacks aren’t winning the Super Bowl. So while winning the NFC North would be a nice treat in 2021, the team will be far better served ensuring their young quarterback is ready to win the whole shebang in September 2022.
Rodgers leaving the division would be a remarkable moment; a three-city sigh of relief. But when it comes to the long-term success of the Chicago Bears and their quarterback, it shouldn’t mean a damn thing.