Is Aaron Rodgers more like Jay Cutler than we care to admit?
Jay Cutler is easy to dislike.
The Bears QB is reluctant to take blame for bad performances, such as the one he turned in Thursday night against the Packers. When asked after the game about how he did, he offered up a lame "some good/some bad" analogy that Windy City sports radio talk show hosts eagerly ripped, since the four picks he tossed the night would seem to tip the scales toward the "bad" side of the equation. Cutler also got caught on camera barking at one of his linemen after a sack, adding more fuel to the it's-not-me-it's-them persona that Cutler seems to embrace when the going gets tough.
But what about Aaron Rodgers?
He had a decent night against the Bears but is guilty of the same thing--showing up a teammate on camera. The NFL Network showed the QB yelping at wide receiver James Jones after a blown pass attempt. I didn't see it myself--it happened after I'd gone to bed--but I caught it Sunday morning when the NFL on Fox brought it up on their pre-game show.
Aaron Rodgers has done spectacular things under admittedly brutal circumstances. His rise to the top of the depth chart came amid one of the most turbulent stretches in team history: the ungraceful dismount from the Brett Favre era. Rodgers said and did all the right things during the tumult, keeping quiet and waxing graceful as Green Bay fans split along partisan lines. Households split and friendships were tested as the faithful were asked to sever ties with the legend.
You remember the rest.
There's so much to love about Rodgers: his numbers, his grace, his style, his involvement with the community, and even his discount-double-check commercials. There's nothing to like, though, when he goes after one of his own on the field. Not cool. Not cool at all.
Cutler is a convicted punk who seems to self-immolate against the Packers. His 'tude and inability to articulate leaves one to think he's not well liked among his teammates,who do nothing to lift that perception. He could be the one thing standing between the Bears and collective success--that, and a lame o-line, but I digress.
Rodgers wins games and has a Super Bowl ring. He does so much right. It's a shame he did that one thing wrong Thursday night. He matured in the position so rapidly that it may be easy to forget he's still on a bit of a learning curve but, then again, he should be smart enough to already know this most rudimentary of lessons: never show up a co-worker, certainly not in public.
I remember the only day I came close to quitting my job: it was years ago, on an election day ions ago. Someone on the radio station was making light of TV's exit polling, telling listeners to lie if asked who'd they'd voted for. A manager confronted me off-air about what was happening--which was his right--but he did it in the newsroom, loudly and in front of virtually everyone I worked with back there. He had every reason to be upset, but he picked exactly the wrong way to go about it. I pulled him aside and told him just that before going to a manager further up the food chain to explain what had happened. I said I could no longer work in such a situation unless the issue was settled. Cooler heads prevailed, apologies were given and life went on.
Heat of the moment? Sure. Things happen, you learn, and you move on. Cutler doesn't seem to do those last two things--this isn't the first time he's lit into one of his own, and who knows if it's the last. Rodgers needs to make sure this is an exception, not a rule.
The Packers QB has other things to worry about: the league is adjusting to Green Bay's attack (the Niners and Giants, for sure). Rodgers has looked less than spectacular in the last three games that counted, not to mention the pre-season. The offense doesn't look to be on the same page. Then there's that other elephant in the room: the Pack's inability to come from behind on Rodgers' watch, a subject given new life after the season-opening loss to SF. Maybe it's just not in the team's DNA. Maybe it's the QB. There's no "maybe", though, when it comes to the numbers. Once down, Green Bay seems to stay there since Favre left town.
The Packers' transition from Favre to Rodgers was hardly seamless but it was hardly as rough as it might have been. Rodgers picked up the mantle rapidly and exceeded expectations. Many a team failed when it came time to replace a legend at quarterback. Look at the Bears--they haven't been the same since Sid Luckman left town.
Rogers makes Green Bay proud, but he puts a self inflicted dent in his own armor when he does things like he did Thursday night. The whole world's watching, and it takes only takes a few seconds to undo hours of good. Coach Mike McCarthy is a QB guru, and hopefully he has a chapter in his how-to book on signalcalling that he can make Rogers study before Monday night's game with the Seahawks.