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Aaron Rodgers: Packers’ catalyst for success

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Updated: December 2, 2013 12:55PM



Aaron Rodgers has started games without two starting wide receivers, two starting running backs, his starting fullback and starting tight end.

Yet the Packers quarterback has still been, well, himself.

How?

“You know I can’t give out any of those secrets,” he said Thursday. “It’s something in the water up here in Green Bay.”

Rather than drill their banged-up defense in preparation for the 5-2 Packers this week, the Bears might be better served renting a backhoe and trying to reroute that water line to Halas Hall.

As if it needed to be in starker relief, Rodgers is the reason for the Packers’ success.

And he owns the Bears.

Rodgers has won six in a row against his rival, including an NFC title game during the Packers’ Super Bowl year, and is 9-2 all-time against the Bears.

It’s gotten to this: Rodgers gave an “anybody can beat anybody on a given Sunday” answer to why he shouldn’t be overconfident against the Bears.

“We’re a big ol’ humble bunch up here in the great state of Wisconsin,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who has won 10 consecutive NFC North home games. “Trust me, we’re not.”

While the Bears’ coaching staff has turned over from Lovie Smith to Marc Trestman, the Packers’ staff has been similar for years.

McCarthy has been the coach in every single one of Rodgers’ starts; when offensive coordinator Joe Philbin left for the Miami Dolphins before last season, he was replaced by Rodgers’ quarterbacks coach, Tom Clements.

That consistency has made it easier to plug in receivers —and tight ends and running backs — when needed.

“There’s an expectation,” Rodgers said. “When you step in, you’ve got to play well.”

Rodgers “has been doing it for a long time, in the same offense,” Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said.

“He’s not dippin’ and dabbin’ into different offensive coordinators,” he said.

Asked what concerned him about the Packers quarterback, new Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker gave a nervous smile.

“How much time ya got?” he said.

We’ll start here:

◆ In his last four games against the Bears, Rodgers has thrown for 1,090 yards and 12 touchdowns, with two interceptions, for a 117.2 passer rating.

◆ No quarterback in history has dominated his division like Rodgers. His 110.7 regular-season passer rating against divisional foes in an NFL record. So is his 69.8 completion percentage, 8.40 yards per attempt, 64-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio and his 1.54 interception percentage.

◆ Until the kneel-down Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings, Rodgers had led the Packers to points on every single possession.

“He’s one of the elite quarterbacks,” safety Major Wright said. “He makes guys become great ­players.”

Trestman praised the Packers’ coaching and development staffs for the plug-and-play skill position players who have helped replace Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and others.

“It’s not just Aaron,” he said. “We all know he’s the trigger man, but I think there’s a lot of parts to this.”

Still, Rodgers — whose 8.80 yards per attempt leads the league and 108 passer rating is fourth-best — “makes everything go,” Trestman said, because, “has the ability to move around and make plays because of his tremendous accuracy.”

The Bears don’t need reminding.

“You see an offense that’s been together for a while, you see a quarterback that’s an elite quarterback, and you see consistency,” linebacker James Anderson said.

“You see guys that know what they’re doing, and they do their jobs.

“That’s the key to any well-oiled machine.”

Speaking of machines: Anyone know where to rent that backhoe?

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @patrickfinley



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