Packers’ Super Bowl victory is doubly painful for Bears
BY MARK POTASH | Commentary February 7, 2011 3:21PM
The Packers and Aaron Rodgers took the Lombardi Trophy home to Green Bay, and they went through Soldier Field to capture it. | AP
The Packers’ Super Bowl victory Sunday against the Steelers was bad news for Bears fans, but even worse news for the Bears.
The Lombardi Trophy back in Green Bay takes a little of the sheen off the Bears’ impressive 2010 season — the NFC North championship doesn’t sound so great when a team you beat out not only wins the Super Bowl, but goes through Soldier Field to get it.
More than that, it’s a trump card the Bears are going to get pounded with over and over in the offseason: the Packers lost six opening day starters to season-ending injuries and WON THE SUPER BOWL; the Packers started a rookie offensive tackle and WON THE SUPER BOWL; Aaron Rodgers had twice as many concussions as Jay Cutler this season and the Packers WON THE SUPER BOWL.
But even more problematic is the possibility that the Bears are going to have the same issue with the Packers that the White Sox have with the Twins — no matter what moves they make in the offseason, it still might not be enough to beat a team that has a knack for staying one step ahead. Just like the Twins made Paul Konerko look silly at the plate when it really, really counted, the Packers muted Julius Peppers without getting burned by Israel Idonije or Tommie Harris.
That’s the biggest issue facing the Bears, assuming there will be a 2011 NFL season: a team that struggles to put back-to-back playoff seasons together has to find a way to overcome a Packers team that whipped them badly in two key areas this season: coaching and the front office.
Why are the Packers able to plug in rookie Bryan Bulaga — the 24th pick of the 2010 draft — at offensive tackle and win the Super Bowl, while the Bears’
Chris Williams — the 14th pick of the 2008 draft — is running out of o-line positions to find a home?
Why was Packers linebacker Erik Walden — picked up off the street on Oct. 27 — an unstoppable force in Week 17?
Why was Cullen Jenkins — who missed the last month of the regular-season with a calf injury — a bigger factor in the NFC Championship Game than Peppers?
How did Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn nearly beat the New England Patriots on the road a week after the Patriots dominated the Bears when Todd Collins threw four interceptions and had a 6.2 rating against the Carolina Panthers?
The Packers have two basic advantages over the Bears right now: they do more with more and they do more with less. Walden, Jenkins, Sam Shields and B.J. Raji were difference-makers against the Bears this season. They did virtually zilch against the Steelers on Sunday — Walden didn’t even play — and still WON THE SUPER BOWL.
The Bears had a fine season. Lovie Smith is a fine coach. And Jerry Angelo is a fine general manager. But they all have more work to do than they know this offseason. The Packers are not likely to go away. Maybe it’s because they’re insulated from the real world in Green Bay, but the Packers are less affected by the distractions that come with winning a Super Bowl. When they won it 1967, they won it again in 1968. When they won in 1997, they made it back in 1998.
Historically, whenever the Packers ‘‘arrive,’’ with a coach and a quarterback, they usually stick around — the Lombardi/Starr Era (five titles in seven seasons) and the Holmgren/Favre Era (10 playoffs, two Super Bowls in 12 seasons). In fact, only once in the last 50 years have the Packers made the playoffs in a complete season and failed to make it the next without a coaching change or a quarterback change.
So unless circumstances break up the Mike McCarthy/Aaron Rodgers team, the Bears are going to have to figure out a way to not only maintain their own excellence next season, they’ll have to find a way to beat the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.