Rodgers ahead of Favre's success vs. Bears

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Rodgers ahead of Favre's success vs. Bears

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011Posted: 11:57 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
The Bears and fans are facing a very unpleasant football reality.

As far as the Bears are concerned, Aaron Rodgers is better than Brett Favre. Not just the annually retiring Brett Favre; the good one. You could look it up.

Rodgers "is in a league by himself," said cornerback Charles Tillman, a veteran of facing both and answering a comparison question with a comment only about Rodgers.

It may be comforting to note that the Bears held Rodgers below his 2010 season passer rating all three times they played him last season. It may be reassuring to point out that none of the three Packers games last season were decided by more than 7 points and that Rodgers' Packers averaged just 16 points in the three games.

Those would exercises in self-deception.

"I don't know how much 'success' it is," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said when asked about reasons for recent success against the Packers.

That "success" in fact left with Favre.

The Bears have played Rodgers seven times. They have won only two. One of those two, game No. 3 last season, featured 18 Packers penalties and the Bears still won 20-17 by coming from behind in the fourth quarter. Only in the NFC Championship game has Rodgers thrown more interceptions (two) than touchdown passes (zero) and the Bears still couldn't beat him.

The Bears have indeed recently held him below his passer standard. The problem is that in other than that NFC Championship game, he has never had a rating below 87.6.

Which means that even when the Bears "control" him, he is very, very good.

But the Favre comparison?

Rodgers is clearly superior to the Favre that Lovie Smith dominated from 2004-2007. That Favre was 2-6 against the Smith Bears.

But Rodgers is arguably a more dangerous Bear-killer already than Favre was at the same stage of his career.

Favre perpetrated his real mayhem on the Bears teams of Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron, which with rare exceptions (1994, 1995, 2001) all had losing records and were generally patsies for just about everyone.

Favre and Rodgers have the same regular-season record of 4-2 through their first six Bears games. But Rodgers' came against the '08 and '10 Bears teams, vastly superior to the 1992-94 Bears that were finishing Mike Ditka's Bears run and starting Wannstedt's. The '94 team won a wild-card game but was crushed both times it saw Favre.

People who know both

For Bears who have seen both to speak only of Rodgers in any comparison talk is revealing.

"I don't know," said linebacker Lance Briggs, a veteran of the final four Favre years and the three Rodgers seasons. "I think efficiency-wise this is."

Briggs paused. "Rodgers is up there. It's only two games into the year, but efficiency wise he's got to be one of, if not the best quarterback in the league right now. Playing that way. he's playing lights-out football. He's getting the ball to everyone he needs to get it to. And he's doing it without any interceptions and without any incompletions, or not many incompletions."

Rodgers mercifully was not asked any questions this week about Favre. He endured far too many of those when Favre was still in Green Bay and in the seasons that followed his messy departure.

But Rodgers is already being spoken of in terms once reserved for Favre.

"Rodgers has got an unbelievable release," Marinelli said. "The ball really comes out quick. Very, very accurate. I think he's a tremendous competitor. Then you add his mobility. He's a very, very mobile guy. When he breaks that pocket, boy, he's tough. He's accurate, and he'll run, but he is extremely accurate outside of the pocket."

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

So Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing in his rookie season, despite just a dozen carries in the first three games. The fifth-round pick joined the man who beat him out for the rushing title, Ezekiel Elliott, as one of just five rookies in history to average five or more yards per carry on over 250 carries. And he set the Bears' rookie rushing record with his 1,313 yards while becoming just the fourth in franchise history to rush for that many yards in a season.

Sounds pretty hard to top, like we might be set up for the dreaded sophomore slump.

But...

"Things are a lot different this year because I know what to expect," Howard said during the team's minicamp two weeks ago. "I know all the plays and things like that. I’m not out there thinking, so I can just play free and fast.

"I definitely feel like a veteran 'cause I know what to expect and can help the young guys on the plays that they're not understanding. I’m just more comfortable and want to be a leader."

One of the other things we learned about Howard last year is he's low-key, a man of few words. So the Indiana product by way of UAB will make his points verbally when needed, but his actions will speak louder.

"He was a rookie a year ago and didn't even go in trying to be a leader, telling a five-year guy what was up," said head coach John Fox. "I think with time, and obviously with production like he had, I think it's a role he can fall in to. We're in a performance-based business and even in that locker room, what they do on Sundays gives them some credibility."

One of the concerns about Howard coming out of college was durability, but he answered the bell once he became the starter in week four against Detroit. And he probably wasn't used nearly as much as he should have. The good news about that is he was subject to less wear and tear, averaging just 18 carries per game from that Lions game on.

But besides taking more of a leadership role, Howard wanted to work on his speed without sacrificing the strong base that, paired with keen vision and work by the offensive line, allowed him to hit holes quickly and charge toward the second level of opposing defenses.

"Just improving on the little things – my conditioning, my weight, catching passes. And looking for ways to finish runs better," says Howard. "I feel like I’m in much better shape than I was at this time last year, a little more toned-up."

"It's just training," said Fox. "When you get to that it's more like track speed than football speed and I think he proved pretty worthy of that a year ago as a rookie. Y'know we all can improve on things, and that's the expectation. He's trained hard.

"This time of year last year he wasn’t even practicing," Fox remembered. "I like where we are, we’ve brought in more competition, and he’s better for it. He’s kind of gotten used to an NFL season, he’s come back ready to roll, but he still has work to do before we get to training camp."  

Oh, and the 22-year-old has a couple of other goals he didn't mind sharing, besides being a leader and getting a little faster.

"First off, make the playoffs. Be the leading rusher, and just help the team in any way I can and stay consistent."

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Brandon Marshall is no stranger to keeping it real.

The outspoken All-Pro receiver never minces his words and that continued over the weekend when he showed off his signed jersey collection.

Marshall took to Instagram and showed off "Santa" hanging all of the jerseys he's swapped with other NFL players:

Santa doing work.. . #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

The list includes a host of current and future Hall of Fame players: Champ Bailey, Cris Carter, John Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lance Briggs, Adam Vinatieri, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Joe Thomas.

When almost all the framed jerseys were hung, Marshall took his followers through:

@nfl #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

Marshall compliments each player before, calling them "Hall of Famers" before getting to Jay Cutler at the end and going "Hall of..." multiple times.

Was that Marshall throwing shade at his former quarterback in both Denver and Chicago? If it was an innocent mistake or whatever, there's no way Marshall would've posted the Instagram video, right?

Marshall and Cutler were good friends from the beginning of their careers with the Broncos. So much so that the Bears traded a pair of third round draft picks in March 2012 to allow the two to continue their bromance by the lake:

But Marshall and Cutler have had a contentious relationship since.

Last summer, Marshall responded to a Tweet saying "of course" he misses Cutler. Last August, Marshall hopped on ESPN's First Take and said he thought Cutler could win the MVP Award in the 2016 NFL season.

At the same time, Marshall talked about his relationship with Cutler and said he was the only person on the Bears with the "huevos" to hold the enigmatic quarterback accountable. Marshall also said he was "sad" he didn't talk to Cutler much in the year leading up to August 2016.