While Chicago Bears fans have celebrated the selection of Justin Fields back in April, another story they’ve been keeping an eye on has been the drama unfolding in Green Bay between the Packers’ front office and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Many speculated that Rodgers would opt out of the 2021-22 NFL season because a trade this summer seemed unlikely. Now that the deadline to opt-out has passed, it is clear that Rodgers will either be traded or return to suit up for one final season in Green Bay.
The Aaron Rodgers story shouldn’t really matter to the Chicago Bears at all.
For the Chicago Bears, no matter the result of the Packers-Rodgers drama, their mission in 2021 remains the same. Their future outlook over the next 10 years is still brighter than their historic rival if Justin Fields is everything the team drafted him to be.
If the Packers do trade Rodgers, the Bears become the favorite to win that division. The media will tell you it’s the Minnesota Vikings but the Bears’ 5-1 record over the last three years versus Minnesota paints a different picture. However, even if the Packers do keep Rodgers, is a run to the playoffs out of the question for the Bears this season?
The Chicago Bears could definitely make the playoffs this season with an emerging Justin Fields and a return to 2018 or 2019 form for the defense. The NFC has gotten weaker as Drew Brees has retired and most of the other teams are relatively even with only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a clear level above the competition.
This is why the Packers drama should not matter to Bears fans or the organization because whether or not Rodgers plays for Green Bay this season, the Chicago Bears could find themselves back in the playoffs. The primary goal of this season is the development of Justin Fields. Whether they make the playoffs as a division winner or wildcard takes a backseat to the importance of Justin Fields’ growth as a leader and franchise quarterback.
If the Bears ride their defense back to a division crown as they did in 2018, that would be great. However, the season would only be considered a true success if, for the first time in franchise history, the Chicago Bears field a quarterback who can lead them consistently week in and week out. With this goal in mind, the importance of the Packers drama is minimal for Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears and should be for fans also.
I believe people have played up the significance of the Packers’ situation for the Bears because Matt Nagy is allegedly coaching to keep his job in 2021. A division without Aaron Rodgers would surely make it easier for him to stack enough wins to keep him around another year. However, this line of thinking is flawed. Matt Nagy’s seat would only begin to get hot if there was no improvement in QB play regardless of whether or not the team itself made the playoffs.
For example, if the Chicago Bears have a repeat of 2020 and once again rank in the bottom 10 in QB play but somehow make the playoffs in a division without Aaron Rodgers, his seat would be much hotter than if Justin Fields shows exceptional promise as a rookie and they narrowly miss the playoffs at 9-8 or 8-9 in a division with or without Aaron Rodgers.
Ultimately, it would be exciting to potentially start the season without having to schedule two losses to the Green Bay Packers because of Aaron Rodgers. However, I for one, am more excited to watch the development of Justin Fields. He could potentially turn the rivalry around and help them pencil in two wins against the Packers every year for the next 15 seasons.